Why Not All Poppies Look The Same
The poppy has been used to commemorate fallen soldiers on Remembrance Day since 1921. But despite their prevalence across the Commonwealth, not all poppies look the same. Here are some of the more notable variations.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland
The Royal British Legion produces a poppy with two petals, a green leaf and a black centre. The petals are made of paper and the stem and black centre of recyclable plastic. The green leaf should traditionally point to the time when the First World War ended on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month when the Armistice treaty was signed in 1918. Disabled ex-servicemen and women have assembled the poppies year-round at The Poppy Factory in Richmond, a borough of London, since 1922. This version of the poppy is also used in South Africa, where deliveries are sent from the Poppy Factory every year. There is some debate in the U.K. over where a poppy should be worn. Some say it should always be worn on the left, near the heart. Others say it should be worn on the left by men and on the right by women, like a brooch. The Royal British Legion says it doesn’t matter which side you pin it on, as long as you wear it with pride. The Queen wears it on the left.
The first poppies worn in Australia for Remembrance Day in 1921 were made of silk in French orphanages. Madame E. Guérin, a representative of the French YMCA, came up with the idea of creating and sending poppies overseas to raise money for French widows and orphans. The poppies were sold for a shilling, with five pence donated to the French Children’s League and the rest going to the league to help veterans. Today, poppies are made by The Returned and Services League of Australia. Poppies are sold for a set price of $2 and are tax-deductible, according to the RSL website.
New Zealand uses the same poppies as Australia, but the official poppy appeal is not held on November 11. Instead they are worn on Anzac Day, the national day of Remembrance, which falls on April 25. Why? In 1921, the ship carrying poppies from France to New Zealand arrived too late for the poppies to be properly publicized for the Remembrance Day ceremonies. Instead they were held until Anzac Day and a historical precedent was set.
The Canadian poppy is made out of moulded plastic covered in flocking. The single red piece contains indents marking four petals. The current black centre of the poppy was briefly green until 2002, when it reverted to the original colour. Poppies were originally made at “Vetcraft” workshops in Montreal and Toronto by disabled veterans. Since 1996 a Canadian company has taken over the production of the poppies. The Royal Canadian Legion recommends wearing the poppy on your left lapel.