The flag of Georgia was adopted on January 25, 2004. The flag known as the “five-cross flag” because it features five St. George’s crosses: one cross stretches across the flag’s white background and one small cross appears in each quadrant of the flag.
The flag of Georgia is based on the single St. George’s cross flag, which pays tribute Saint George, a Christian soldier, priest, and martyr. He is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic, Anglican, Eastern, Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches. According to legend, St. George saved the King of Silene’s daughter from a plague-bearing dragon that the king’s daughter was sent to slay herself. Saint George tamed the dragon and brought the beast into the king’s village where Saint George told the townspeople that he would slay the dragon if everyone agreed to become baptized Christians. The townspeople consented, Saint George slayed the dragon, and the king built a church on the site of the dragon’s death.
The single St. George’s cross flag is probably one of the oldest flags in the world, and was used in Georgia by King Vakhtang Gorgasali in the fifth century. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the “five-cross flag” was used under the reign of Queen Tamar of Georgia and George V of Georgia, respectively. According to medieval tradition, the five crosses represent the five Holy Wounds of Christ.
After the medieval era, the “five-cross flag” was not used and many other versions of the Georgia flag were developed. In the twentieth century, the Democratic Republic of Georgia flew a red rectangular flag with two short horizontal stripes—one black and one white—in the upper left corner. This flag was used from 1918 until 1921 and from 1990 until 2004.
When Georgia was under Soviet rule and known as the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (1921-1990), the country used three different communist flags. Each flag was red and included either the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic’s name or the hammer and sickle icon.