Every country has so many holidays, commemorating events and personages that matter mainly (or only) to them, that something as modest, as wholesome, as foursquare as a Flag Day gets lost in the scrum. But there are plenty of them, I discover.
Forty-six countries, of the 180 or 190 or 206 countries on earth at the moment, celebrate a day either named, or at least mentioned in some way, as Flag Day.
I just found out this very morning that today, January 7, is Flag Day in Italy. It commemorates January 7, 1797, the day on which the Cispadana Republic was established by Napoleon. It was a transitory entity, a puppet creature of the French government, but the flag that was created by representatives of the cities of Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Modena and Ferrara lives on in their choice of red, white and green.
The day is celebrated with varying degrees of pomp around the country. In Reggio and Bologna, it gets a lot of attention, because their city colors are red and white. (Green represents hope, if that needs explaining.)
In Venice, the day is kept extremely quiet; so quiet that no notice whatever is made on the daily calendar of the Comune. I only was alerted to the significance of January 7 by a temporary sign set up at Sant’ Elena, propped against the flagpole. At least somebody cares.
In Rome, more fuss is made of the date, as you might imagine. At 3:15 PM, in front of the Quirinale Palace (residence of the President of the Republic), a special ceremony of the changing of the guard is performed by the Corazzieri, the branch of the carabinieri designated as the President’s honor guard. They always look great, partly because of their size (minimum required height: 190 cm, or six feet, 2.8 inches), partly because of their horses, and especially because of their dress uniforms. Not everybody can rock a shiny metal breastplate and helmet crowned with a horse’s tail. Here’s the link: http://youtu.be/tfGCTVfNo8E
Note: If the marching in begins to pall, skip to 7:45 for the moment of the changing of the guard.
Lino, like everybody of his vintage, learned batches of patriotic songs when he was a lad. It was like us memorizing “Trees” for Arbor Day. The minute I started playing “La Bandiera Tricolore” he began singing along. It’s short, but sweet. It basically says that our flag has always been the most beautiful and it’s the only one we want, along with liberty. Long live the three colors.
Here’s the link: http://youtu.be/IY0NwMrEL6c
For more patriotic history, and music, see my post on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic.