In the Tower over the Stone Gates in Zagreb, on 5 June 2023, the Croatian Heraldric and Vexillological Association (HGZD), the Brotherhood of the Croatian Dragon Society (DBHZ) and Croatian postal authority HP – Hrvatska pošta d. d. held a ceremony promoting the new issue of postage stamps of the Republic of Croatia entitled “Croatian Flag”, which Croatian Post put into circulation on that very day, on the occasion of the Croatian Flag Day and 175th anniversary of the first Croatian tricolor in official use.
Two years ago HGZD proposed to the Commission for the Selection of Motifs and Art and Graphic Designs of Postage Stamps of the Republic of Croatia the production of a series of stamps on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the tricolor on Croatian Flag Day in 2023. The Croatian Flag Day was jointly proclaimed on the 170th anniversary in 2018 by four national institutions which care, each in their own way, for Croatian identity heritage: HGZD, DBHZ, Croatian Institute of History (HIP) and Croatian History Museum (HPM). Namely, on that date, 5 June 1848, the installation ceremony of Baron Josip Jelačić of Bužim as Ban of Croatia was held, on which occasion he was presented with the Ban’s installation flag as a symbol of Ban’s honor and power. Unlike earlier such flags, this one was for the first time in the form of a tricolor with the national coat of arms of the Triunited Kingdom (Croatia Slavonia and Dalmatia) on one side and the coat of arms of Ban on the other. The Croatian tricolor appeared as a national symbol a few months earlier in the revolutionary year of 1848 and quickly became popular. With its official use as a ban’s flag, the tricolor achieved clear recognition and has since become an irreplaceable national symbol.
The Commission for the Selection of Motifs decided on two stamps, one that will show the historical ban’s flag with an appropriate scene from that era and the other with a depiction of the flag of the Republic of Croatia with a contemporary scene. At the public competition for the design of stamps according to these propositions, the solution of two designers from Samobor, Ariana Noršić and Maja Cipek, was chosen. The stamps were printed in sheets of 8 stamps, a commemorative first day cover (FDC) was issued along with them, and a commemorative first day stamp was also in use.
At the ceremonial presentation of postage stamps, the Grand Master of DBHZ, Prof. Mislav Grgić, referred to the purpose and goals of the Society and its concern for national symbols, as well as the initiative of four institutions to include Croatian Flag Day in the official state calendar.
Academician Željka Čorak, president of the Committee for the Selection of Motifs and Art and Graphic Designs of Postage Stamps of the Republic of Croatia, held an inspiring lecture on the importance of publishing stamps with national symbols on this anniversary and on the importance of stamps in general for building national awareness, but also the international reputation and brand of the country. In the end, the president of HGZD, Dr. Željko Heimer, who is also the Master of Ceremonies of the DBHZ and therefore moderated this ceremony, recalled the significance of the tricolor in modern Croatian history, the members of the Dragon Brotherhood who were famous heraldists, and members who participated in the creation of modern symbols of the Republic of Croatia in 1990. He also recalled the Croatian veterans who confirmed these symbols with their personal sacrifice and pointed to the flags of the guard brigades from the Homeland War that are kept in the Tower, just above the gathered auditorium. He then thanked individually all those who contributed in various ways to the issuing of these stamps, the organization of this ceremony and the initiative to establish the Croatian Flag Day in general.
The dragon hall was decorated for this occasion by a replica of Jelačić’s installation flag from the holdings of the Croatian History Museum, which was produced in 1990 and was displayed for more than a year in the Assembly Hall of the Parliament witnessing the fateful moments of the birth of the modern and free Croatian state. For this occasion, HPM also presented a graphic of Baron Jelačić’s entry into Zagreb at the ceremony in 1848, which served as a motif on one of the stamps.
Croatian Post has prepared for the guests a small folder with newly issued stamps and a commemorative leaflet with technical details and accompanying text. It also decorated the hall with a poster with an depiction of the stamp with Jelačić’s flag and framed sheets of new stamps. In addition, HP provided stamps of the Republic of Croatia for a small philatelic exhibition that was held in the hall. Stamps with a state-building theme were displayed on two “showcases”, complemented by philatelic objects (traveled letters) with a dragon society theme donated by philatelist Zoran Vlahović and materials of the Croatian Philatelist Association and its president Julio Maras, who also prepared the exhibition.
The Croatian Institute of History prepared for the guests a leaflets of the Proclamation and a booklet of Memorial to the 170th anniversary, which started the tradition of celebrating the Croatian Flag Day on June 5.
All this rich program was crowned by the performance of the Academic Male Choir of FER under the direction of conductor Maestro Josip degl’ Ivellio, Dragon of Brač II, with a series of patriotic and appropriate compositions between the speakers, ending with a masterful performance of the song “Marjane, Marjane”, which was joined by the audience in a cheerful but dignified atmosphere.
In the dragon tradition, the gathering ended with a modest reception hosted by DBHZ as a good host. The dish was blessed by the delegate of the Archbishop of Zagreb, Rev. Tomislav Hačko, Head of the Press Office of the Archdiocese. The guests stayed in a pleasant atmosphere, examined the exhibits, commented, and we believe they also got inspiration for some new projects and future events that will follow.