Thursday, 4 December 2008

red, white and green

We have noticed a great deal of red, white and green in our travels around the Basque country. Additionally we have admired the Ikurriña or Ikurrina flag which is the official flag of Pays Basque. The flag is red, white and green and resembles the pattern of the Union Jack. It's British influence is presumed to be due to the close connection between Bilbao and Britain at the time of its design in 1894.

The flag was designed to represent the province of Biscay: a section for each of the seven Basque provinces and one for the whole region. The regime of General Franco prohibited the flag although it continued to be flown and became a symbol of defiance – the first actions of the clandestine group ETA involved placing flags in public places. The flag was only legalised in 1977. The red symbolises the Biscayan people (the race); the green saltire is said to represent the Oak of Guernica, a symbol of the old laws of Bizkaia; and over them all flies the white cross, God's symbol of Basque Catholic devotion. Red, white and green have become the adopted Basque colours and can be seen throughout the region, most notably in the architecture.