Fahnen Kössinger, March 7, 2018

The flag consecration - the most important day of a flag

New flags are normally introduced to the public during a flag consecration. This is a festive day, with a church mass or a ceremonial act, and as a rule, with a following celebration with decoration and music and many guests and partner clubs that pay their share to a successful event. Only after its consecration can a flag take up its service and represent the club during parades, church masses, and other performances. It is an old tradition that is being held up until today especially in Catholic areas, but also far outside those.

As is often the case in flag history, the origins of flag consecrations stem from the military area. With the ceremonial act, the flag is supposed to be put under the protection of god - an important issue for the warlords of former times because the flag was an essential point of identification for the soldiers. During the battle melee, it served not to lose contact with one's proper unit. If a flag got lost or was destroyed, the consequences for the outcome of the battle could be grave - because the warriors lost their point of orientation. And if the flag even fell into the enemy's hands, it was a bad shame. Therefore, god's blessing was not only meant for the flag fabric but also for the unit it was standing for.

Consecrating the flag of Ochtrup

This custom was already known in Medieval times. First reports are passed down from the tenth century. In Middle and Western Europe, the custom spread from the time of the crusades, at first in the military, later on also within the clubs. The original purpose of the flag consecration being to obtain Christ's blessing for the battle, nowadays clubs want to put their flag and with it their community under god's protection.

There are no universally valid rules for the procedures of a flag consecration. Regionally and in various areas, the most diverse customs have developed, such as begging the godfather during which a befriended club is asked to pose as a godfather and help organise the flag consecration. The most versatile rituals are being followed - often, the begging club are kneeling on wooden logs, declaim poems with several verses and have to fulfill certain tasks. After this, the two clubs are often united by a strong friendship that lasts on long after the flag consecration.

Sünzhausen flag on stage

Some firebrigade associations and other organisations have issued guidelines about the schedule of a flag consecration, so-called "flag consecration guides". In them, also the process of the festival church mass is regulated during with the flag gets its clerical blessing, respectively, during worldly consecrations the schedule of the ceremonial act. The necessary preparations are also put down there. Among these count among else, to name festival ladies or invite guests of honor. The necessary equipment for the flag consecration is also listed - besides the festival uniforms, especially the flag banners are to be mentioned that are attached to the consecrated flag and to the flag of the godfather club. Honorable ladies or the mayor also donate flag banners, apart from that, befriended clubs that are invited to the flag consecration, often receive memorial banners. It is also important to choose the respective music for the solemn musical framing of the celebration.

During the church consecration, the flag virgins or honorable ladies are allocated the task to present the new flag to the club for the first time. The carry it into the church, wrapped into a cloth, and depose it at a prominent place. Firm texts, prayers, and songs determine the course of the church service. Only after that, the flag bearer gets his equipment such as the carrying belt or gloves and holds the flags in his or her hands for the first time. Afterwards, the flag is presented to the gathered people and is being waved for the first time. Banners are donated. Now, the new flag exchanges the flag greeting with the other flags - the flag is now officially established as the signpost of the club and can serve at parades, mourning celebrations or other events in the future.

Entering the church
Parade with participating clubs

Also profane flag consecrations are wide-spread in the meantime even if they are not as common as ecclesiastical ones. There is no church service, it is replaced by a ceremonial act with speeches and music. In this case, the flag is delivered by the godfather club, the rest of the schedule is similar to the church consecration. There are few clubs that totally refrain from a ceremonial introduction of their new flag. After all, it is not just a colorful piece of cloth - but a real sanctum and the whole pride of the club.