The Jamaican flag was unfurled and hoisted for the first time at the dramatic hour of midnight on August 5, 1962 as the British flag was being lowered, signalling the dawn of Jamaica’s political independence from Britain, present day United Kingdom, after over 300 years under British rule.
Following a national flag design competition (in 1961), which failed to yield a winning model, a bipartisan committee of the Jamaica House of Representatives in early 1962, designed the Jamaican Flag in time for Independence Day Celebrations on August 6, 1962. The emblem has a diagonal cross or saltire with four triangles in juxtaposition. The cross is in GOLD and the width of each of its bends (arms) is one-sixth of the length of the fly of the flag. The top and bottom triangles are in GREEN, and the hoist and fly triangles are in BLACK. It follows the ‘Admiralty Pattern’ and the width-to-length ratio of the flag is 1:2.
“The sun shineth, the land is green and the people are strong and creative” is the symbolism of the colours of the flag. Black depicts the strength and creativity of the people; Gold, the natural beauty of the sunlight and the wealth of the country; and Green signifies hope and agricultural resources.
Code for The Use of Flag
• The Flag is to be regarded as the sacred emblem of the nation to be paid due reverence and devotion by all its citizens.
• The Flag should never be allowed to touch the ground or floor.
• The Flag should not be flown or used for purely decorative purposes on anything that is for temporary use and likely to be discarded, except on State occasions. Official sanction should be obtained from the Office of the Prime Minister prior to using the image or representation of the National Flag.
• It should never have placed on it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure or drawing of any kind.
• The Flag should never be smaller than any other flag flown at the same time.
• When the Flag becomes worn, dilapidated, is torn, or no longer suitable for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning privately.
• No other flag should be placed above or to the right of the Jamaican Flag, except at Foreign Embassies, Consulates, and Missions.
• Except at Foreign Embassies, Consulates, and Missions, no foreign flags may be flown publicly, unless the Flag of Jamaica is also flown.
• The Flag, when carried in procession with another flag or flags, should be on the marching right, or if there is a line of flags, in front of the centre of that line.
• The Flag should not be draped over vehicles of any sort, except on Military, Police, and State occasions.
• The Flag should not be used as embellishment on any object nor should it be used as
decorative patches or adornments on clothing, headgear, etcetera.
• The Flag should be flown in or near every Polling Station on Election Day.
• The Flag should be flown at half-mast as a sign of official mourning when so declared by the Office of the Prime Minister for a period determined by that Office. The half-mast position is approximately the ‘hoist’ or width (short side) of the flag below the peak of the flagpole and not halfway down.
• The Flag, when flown at half-mast, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered slowly to the half-mast position. It should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered.
• During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the Flag or when the Flag is passing in a parade or in a review, all persons present should face the Flag and stand at attention. Men should remove their hats. Persons in uniform should salute.
• The Flag may be flown on private buildings on all National and State occasions and should always be flown on any private building on the occasion of official visits by the Governor-General, and the Prime Minister.
• The Flag should be flown at the official residence of the Prime Minister when he is in residence.
• The Flag should be flown on the Governor-General’s and Prime Minister’s cars.
• All Government-owned ships, defence craft, and lighthouses should fly the Flag. All Government-owned aircraft, rail, and motor vehicles should bear a representation of the Flag. All merchant ships of Jamaican registration should fly the Flag.
• The Flag should be flown on all Government and municipal buildings and offices, on or near the main administrative building, it is recommended that if possible, each day it should be lowered at sundown and raised at 8:00 a.m.
• The Flag should be flown on all Government-aided schools when school is in session.
• At the beginning and end of each term there should be a special Flag Raising and Lowering Ceremony.
• The National Pledge for schools should be recited on such occasions.
• It would be appropriate for any school to have a special Flag Raising Ceremony on the Anniversary of Independence.
• All youth camps, clubs, and institutions for young people should fit similar ceremonies into their schedules.