The flag of Poland was adopted on August 1, 1919. It is a simple flag consisting of a rectangle divided into two horizontal fields, a white field on the top and a red field on the bottom.
Red and white have been important colors in Poland since its first royal arms banner in the Middle Ages. This banner represented the Kingdom of Poland under the rule of King Ladislaus the Elbow-High and was a red cloth with a white eagle in the center. This banner was not only used in battle but also as a symbol of the Polish royalty.
Later, in the sixteenth century, during the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the two countries combined their symbols. Fortunately, both countries used coats of arms that consisted of white figures with red backgrounds: Poland’s coat of arms featured a white eagle and Lithuania’s was a white knight on horseback. During this time, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth also flew a red-and-white striped banner that included two, three, or four horizontal stripes.
Beginning in the eighteenth century, with the reign of August II, soldiers wore colored ribbons or knots, called cockades, to signify their nation’s color. Polish soldiers wore white knots, but by the second half of the 1700s, soldiers began wearing red and white ribbons to honor their country. Finally, as a result of an uprising against the Russians in November 1830, the Sejm, or Polish house of government declared red and white as the national colors of Poland.
The flag of Poland is always flown on government buildings, including the House of Parliament and the Presidential Palace. The flag is flown on other public buildings for the first three days of May: May 1 is May Day (formerly Labor Day), May 2 is Poland’s Flag Day, and May 3 is Constitution Day. The flag is also flown on November 11 to honor Poland’s Independence Day.