Viking Symbolism in the American Flag

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Red and white were originally the standard colors of the Jewish Dan tribe who migrated north from northern Canaan to escape Assyrian invasion. Passing between the Caspian and Black seas, they settled in the area we now know as Denmark (Danmark), whose flag is red and white. These colors became the colors used by the Vikings on their sails, emblazoned with a serpent or double-headed eagle.

According to Albert Sturtevant in his scholarly book "The Contemptuous Sense of the Old Norse Adjective Hvítr, 'White, Fair'", red and white were symbolic of Red Thor and the White Christ.

The term "White Christ" or Hvitakristr came into currency among the heathen Icelanders at the time when pagan and Christian religions were in conflict. A direct reference to this is made in the Flateyjarbók: "Þeir sem þann sið hafa, taka nafn af þeim guði, er þeir trúa á, er heitr Hvítakristr."

The adjective 'hvítr' when applied to Christ was not meant to describe his physical appearance. At one time in the development of Old Norse, the term was used of either sex to denote someone who was blonde and/or pale-complected.

However, by the Viking Age, the term hvítr had acquired a perjorative connotation. To call a man hvítr was to say that he was cowardly, effeminate, and guilty of argr. A related phrase was to say, "your liver is white" meaning again, a coward... which is almost identical to modern English usage "lily-livered" with the same meaning. The flag of surrender and peace is white for this reason.

In stark contrast to the peace-loving Hvítakristr, who was considered by a pagan warrior culture to be effeminate or cowardly, the Vikings revered their manly, virile god Red Thórr, red not only for his red beard and flashing red eyes, but also for the blood that a warrior spills.

So it is that this conflict between a god of thunder and war and a god of surrender and peace became encoded in the British and American flags.