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Pick your maple-leaf September 30, 2005

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

I rather like this image of Belarus being the foliage of a nice red tree. I think somewhere in the national consciousness, Belarus is meant to look like a maple-leaf (although this shape can hardly have mythical status as the current borders have only been as they are since the end of WWII, when Belarus got a chunk of what had been Poland), though I have also seen it referred to in poetry, here as a briar-rose (though this was nothing to do with shape, admittedly). This poem has the line Зялёны ліст, Чырвоны цьвет (O leaf of green, O flower of red), and makes me wonder if this is where the idea of a green and red flag for Soviet Belarus came from. The historic flag is white-red-white, and white is logical when we consider the name of the country (the Bela-bit means white.)

Anyway, the Canadian flag depicts a rather more spiky leaf. (Pilfered from here.) Canada’s own symbol was a compromise choice, of course, but a successful bit of PR, in my view, as the flag has become one of the world’s most instantly recognisable. I imagine Belarus will rerestore its white-red-white flag if democracy ever settles in there… Canada holds a special place in the Belarusian diaspora psyche, as it does for Ukraine, and I’ve even heard one of the most famous Belarusian émigré(e)s Ivonka Survilla – in Canada, of course – being touted for president. And wasn’t the new Belarusian currency that never was, the taler – what a mythic name – printed up in Canada? It has never been introduced, so must be gathering dust somewhere, making someone very rich in a country that doesn’t yet exist.



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