The cedar tree
The Cedar has been the emblem of Lebanon for a long time. It is cone-shaped in its young age; after its thirtieth year, the branches and top are spreading horizontally. Then, the relatively imposing trunk and majestic bearing endow the tree with an appearance of nobility and power that everyone can admire.
During his travel to the East, the French poet Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869) was marvelled at the beauty of the Lebanese cedars and had words full of natural wisdom: “The cedars of Lebanon are the relics of centuries and nature, the most famous natural landmarks in the universe. They know the story of earth, better than history itself.”
The (green) cedar tree has always been at the centre of the Lebanese flag. In the 18th century, the Maronite Christians already used a white flag trimmed with a cedar tree. Following World War I and the break up with the Ottoman Empire, Lebanon was under French mandate and the cedar tree appeared on the white band of the tricolour flag. The present flag was adopted on independence in 1943.
The red and white stripes are said to have been the colours of the Lebanese legion during World War I. They officially represent respectively the sacrifices of the people for independence and the white snow and purity of the Lebanese mountain summits. However, the red and white colours are so spread in the flag colouring that they must necessarily have a more general meaning unifying them.
According to the Lebanese themselves, the cedar tree should depict happiness and prosperity for the country! Let us hope that the Lebanese people will finally see their emblem become true again. However, the cedar tree is too old a symbol not to bear a meaning beyond the present time and belonging to any time.