There are people who are flag lovers, and then there are flag fanatics. The flag fanatics are obsessively geeky about flags and keep themselves informed about flags including their origins, their colors, their history and what not. In fact, the whole science of studying flags is now a legitimate specialization, known as Vexillology. It basically comes from two words in Latin, namely “vexillum” which means flag and “ology” means “study of”. So, a vexillologist is one we can technically call as flag geek!

This term was first coined by a person called Whitney Smith. Whitney Smith himself is a bona fide flag geek, having founded the journal named “The Flag Bulletin: The International Journal of Vexillology”. He is also the director of Flag Research Center based in Massachusetts.

Whitney Smith is not the only one who takes such avid interest in flags. There is a reason why flags are such a fascination for so many people. For starters, flags represent people’s emotions. They usually become the symbol of nationalism or a religion, due to which people attach great amount of respect to it.  Many countries now have laws against misuse or manhandling of flags. Also, flags come in all shapes and sizes these days, which add to their charm.

The North American Vexillogical Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study of flags and their history. In the truest of senses, it is the one of the largest organizations of those who are geeky about flags. Their purported mission is to promote “vexillological scholarship”. Like any organization, they conduct regular meetings, circulate publications, confer awards and even support research in flags.  However, like all flag geeks, they are neutral towards flag of any country in the world. The membership is open to anyone who is interested in flags. This is definitely one of the best groups for flag geeks to join into.

In earlier days, there were very few information resources on flags. Within libraries, information about flags was usually hidden under heraldries. With the arrival of the internet, websites and forums on flags have exploded. There are now all kinds of flag geeks who get together to discuss their interest in flags and share the joy of owning flags. There are also flag memorabilia that go on online auctions these days, all joyful occasions for flag geeks and enthusiasts.

Sometimes, flags can be used to get people enthused for evil missions or objectives. In such cases, flag geeks simply aim to learn about their flags as academic exercises. Ironically, the interest in flags really took off during the 2nd World War, when there was a patriotic surge among countries participating in the war. Now-a-days, flags are being used to represent all sorts of ideas and activities. Sport teams instil pride in their players and fans through flags. Even companies have adopted flags as an effective marketing tool. Online communities like Anonymous have begun operating under flags of their respective symbols. Characters from cartoons like Garfield and Peanuts have their own flags. All of these have served as fodder for a flag geek’s intellectual consumption.

And finally, the most genuine flag geek will always be interested in flag trivia. Some amazing flag trivia includes:

- The UK flag is also known as the “Union Jack”

- Betsy Ross designed the first US flag

- Australian flag has six stars, consisting of Southern Cross constellation with five stars and one Commonwealth star