Like in many other Balkan countries, the national flag is a sacred symbol inside Bulgaria and can be seen flying proudly across the country. For many Bulgarians, the flag represents an independent state that for many years was kept under the ruthless control of the Ottoman Empire.
In the 14th century the coat of arms of Tsar Ivan Shishman, the most powerful Bulgarian ruler, was a lion represented in gold on a red shield. This design was incorporated in some early Bulgarian revolutionary flags raised against the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. Nevertheless, the national flag was derived from a different source, which was the ethnic association of Bulgarians with their Slavic brothers the Russians. The Russian horizontal tricolour of white-blue-red was modified in the Bulgarian flag by the replacement of green for blue.
From the time of its official recognition (April 16, 1879) until the end of the Bulgarian monarchy following World War II, the national flag was simply the white-green-red tricolour, although the naval flag added a red canton with a yellow lion. When the communists came to power, their coat of arms, with its red star and other socialist symbols, was added in the upper hoist corner of the flag; four variations of that design existed between 1948 and 1990.
Following the collapse of the communist government, the old plain tricolour was reestablished on November 27, 1990. The white of the flag is said to stand for peace, love, and freedom, while green emphasizes the agricultural wealth of Bulgaria. Red is for the independence struggle and military courage.
Flag of communist Bulgaria
From 1947-1990 the flag of Bulgaria was adapted to feature the emblem of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria placed on the left side of the white stripe. It contained a lion within a wreath of wheat ears below a red star and above a ribbon bearing the date 9 September 1944, the day of Bulgarian coup d’état of 1944 which led to the establishment of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. In 1971, it was changed so the ribbon bearing the years 681, the year of the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire by Asparukh and 1944.
During the Cold War, the flag of communist bulgaria was kind of lacking when compared to the flags of its neighbors in the sense that it hardly looked very communist at all. What did look communist, however, was the flag of the Bulgarian People’s Army.
Flag of the Bulgarian People’s Army
The Bulgarian People’s Army was the military of the communist-era People’s Republic of Bulgaria. It comprised the Bulgarian Land Forces, Air Force and Air Defence, Navy and supporting arms. Bulgaria was one of the signatories of the Warsaw Pact. Along with troops from other Warsaw Pact countries, the BNA participated in the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. However, other than this, the BNA did not see any combat during its existence.
The flag of the Bulgarian People’s Army was more classic communism style and featured the slogan: “For our socialist motherland!”.