The poppy has become one of the nation’s most recognisable symbols, with millions of people in the UK wearing the flowers in the build-up to Remembrance Day each year.

Poppies are widely worn in October and November as a mark of respect to British and Commonwealth service personnel killed in the line of duty.

Why Poppies?

Its origins lie in a First World War poem.

Specifically, the Flanders Fields poem by Canadian officer Lt Col John McCrae, though poppies are mentioned in a few other pieces as well.

‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row’

It can be interpreted a few different ways.

The most common one though is in reference to one of the fields of battle and bloodshed in western Europe. Poppies grew from the graves of the lost soldiers.

Later, American poet Moina Michael used Flanders Fields as the inspiration for her own work, We Shall Keep the Faith, and began wearing and distributing the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

This practice quickly spread to the UK, as well as several other countries, where the first ever Poppy Day was held on 11 November 1921.

It was adopted as a symbol by the newly-formed Royal British Legion, a charity established to provide support for members and veterans of the British Armed Forces and their families.

They are now sold everywhere around the UK and after last year, are in desperate need of more funds for the families they support.

With COVID, a lot of people and charities suffered, especially those that relied heavily on physical donations.

What do Different Coloured Poppies Mean?

Red remembrance poppies are by far the most common, dedicated to the warrior lives lost in the war.

White poppies, sold by the Peace Pledge Union, are worn both as a symbol of peace and in remembrance of all casualties of war.

This includes the civilians and non-British, non-Commonwealth casualties.

Black poppies are also sometimes worn, either as an anti-militarist, anti-war gesture or in remembrance of Black, African and Caribbean service personnel killed in the war.

Purple poppies on the other hand are worn to commemorate the animals killed in the war.

This has lasted over 100 years now and I hope it lasts many more, we can’t forget our past mistakes and the lives lost otherwise we as people will not learn.

Happy Remembrance Day!


Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

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