Community & Current Events

Remembrance Day: 5 facts about the poppy

Poppies Author: Canadian Living

Community & Current Events

Remembrance Day: 5 facts about the poppy

You wear one every November, but here are five facts about the poppy that you might not know.

From the last Friday in October until the end of the Remembrance Day ceremony, Canadians wear poppies pinned on their left lapel, close to their heart. The poppy is the Flower of Remembrance in Canada and internationally poppies are "the symbol of collective reminiscence." In honour of Remembrance Day, here are five facts about the poppy.

1. Poppies grow around graves
Poppies flourish in disturbed earth, which makes battlefields a fertile place for poppies to grow. After the First World War, gravesites and battlefields in Belgium and France were full of debris and rubble. The lime in the rubble and debris enriched the soil and helped the poppies grow.

2. How the Poppy became associated with Remembrance Day
There are three people who are associated with creating the Poppy Campaign: John McCrae, Moina Michael and Anne Guerin. John McCrae famously wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields" in 1915 after noticing how the poppies quickly grew around the fresh graves at a funeral for another soldier. Three years later in New York, Moina Michael read "In Flanders Fields" and pledged that she would wear a red poppy as a way of  "keeping the faith with all who died." Moina began making silk red poppies and Anne Guerin brought some of those handmade poppies back to London. In 1921, The British Legion ordered the poppies to be sold on Remembrance Day and the first Poppy Appeal was born.

3. Why the poppy centre changed from green to black
The original poppies sold in the Poppy Campaign had a black centre. But in the 1980s, the Canadian Legion decided to make the centres green to mark "the green fields of France." Eventually, the Legion decided to go back to black to represent how real poppies actually look.

4. Don't pin your poppy with a Canadian Flag
It is not uncommon to either lose your poppy or poke yourself with your poppy needle. To prevent this many people will secure their poppy with a pin, usually one with a Canadian flag. But the Royal Canadian Legion says it is disrespectful to deface the poppy. So do not wear your poppy with any other pin, just use the one it came with. You can keep your poppy in place by putting an earring backing on the end of the needle.

5. What does the Poppy Campaign do with the money raised?
The money raised from the Poppy Campaign helps veterans and their families. It can provide financial assistance, medical resources to veterans, such as buying medical equipment, providing at home services or funding for long-term care facilities.

Last updated November 10, 2016

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Remembrance Day: 5 facts about the poppy

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