In Hungary and many other countries in Central-Eastern Europe, it is common to display a black flag to mourn somebody’s death, but there was no similar symbol to celebrate the arrival of a new life.
One Hungarian organization wanted to change. In 2011, the “baby flag” movement was launched to celebrate the birth of each child in a country that desperately wants to raise its birthrate. The symbol of life has spread since then and is now not only seen flying on balconies, flag poles and houses across the country, but also on government buildings and offices.
The idea comes from Hungary’s “Three princes, three princesses” organization, which aims to promote positive demographic trends inside the country and to raise awareness of their baby flag campaign. The flag, which features storks with a pink or blue background, was the brainchild of actor and theater director Pál Oberfrank who hatched the idea in 2011.
Baby flags have spread far and wide since then as shown by the yellow dots on the map below of Hungary, with each one representing a town or city where the movement is active.
Government officials, such as State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians Tristan Azbej, have also promoted the movement and pointed to its success on social media.
— Tristan Azbej ن (@tristan_azbej) August 25, 2020
In 2020, The organization behind the baby flags, “Three princes, three princesses”, was founded in 2009 by sociologist and psychologist Mária Kopp. Though she died in 2012 at the age of 70 after a long and distinguished academic career, the movement carries on her legacy under the leadership of her daughter, journalist and documentary filmmaker Fruzsina Skrabski.
Their biggest success so far was a declaration initiated by them in 2013, in which all five parliamentary parties at the time signed a commitment to support any family policy measures which would lead to higher birth rates.
The conservative government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán since 2010 has made it one of its top priorities to stop the decline of the Hungarian population, a task which deputy minister of Human Resources Katalin Novák said could take decades.
Due to government policies, Hungary’s birth rate has been inching up, with birth rates increasing 5 percent in the first seven months of 2020 year-on-year. The birth rate has gone from 1.44 to 1.53.
Hungary currently spends €6.8 billion on its pro-family policies, which amounts to 4.6 percent of its GDP. Novák emphasized that this sum was not considered “spending” but rather, “an investment”.