Why Not All Pop­pies Look The Same

The Peterborough Examiner - - Lest We Forget -

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

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.

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