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Why Are Poppies Used to Commemorate Remembrance Day?

For decades, the red poppy flower has been worn as a sign of respect among those in the Commonwealth Nations. Governmental figures, those in the public eye, military personnel and everyday people all wear the well-known flower. But how did the poppy become such a prolific symbol? In this post, we're sharing the story of the poppy, its meaning, and the importance of wearing the poppy on the 11th of November.

What is a poppy?

The poppy flower is a red herbaceous plant (herbaceous plants have no woody stem). There are around one hundred and twenty different varieties of poppy! However, the most common poppy is the Papaver rhoeas, commonly referred to as ‘the classic poppy’. This is the red poppy we see on Remembrance Day.

Poppies have four overlapping petals in their distinctive bright red colouring. Most poppies will grow up to seventy centimetres in height! One poppy stem holds a single flower that grows to around five to ten centimetres wide. This stem can produce up to four hundred flowers in season. However, these flowers will usually only last one day. The Poppies' vibrant red colour stands out against the single black spot in the centre of the petals, at the flower's base. The classic poppy stem is covered in coarse hairs, helping distinguish it from other varieties of the flower.

The majority of poppies are found in the Northern Hemisphere and have become popular garden plants. These poppies tend to flower in late spring, but those in warmer locations may bloom later in the year. The poppy's ability to grow in even the harshest of climates is one of the reasons this flower is so special, and has gained its historical significance.

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What is Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day on the 11th of November marks the day The First World War ended. Otherwise known as ‘Armistice Day’. On this date in 1918, the Allied and Central Powers signed the armistice agreement that ended the four-year war. Decades on from then, we now remember this faithful day by showing our respects for the lives lost and sacrifices made during the first and the second world wars.

At eleven o’clock on November 11th a minute's silence takes place. This time is to honour and reflect those lost and injured during the conflict. In addition to this, Remembrance ceremonies happen around the world, whereby people come together to remember the tragedies and heroes of the twentieth century's largest catastrophes.

How the poppy became a symbol of Remembrance Day

The poppy flower is synonymous with remembering the Great War and World War Two, but why do we use this flower as a symbol of commemoration?

The poppy is an incredible flower for numerous reasons. However, most impressive of all is its ability to grow on ruined earth. Once fighting had ended, this striking plant began flowering on Europe’s war-torn earth. On expansive barren battlefields, the red poppy bloomed, bringing glorious colour and a promise of a brighter future. Since then, the poppy flower has become a lasting memorial of The Great War. Today, we wear the poppy to remember The First World War and the tragedies that followed in later conflicts.

In 1921, the Royal British Legion adopted the poppy as the symbol for Poppy Appeal, the Armed Forces charity. The money raised from selling poppies as part of the Poppy Appeal goes towards veterans, supports those currently serving, and helps families affected by current and past wars. Poppy Appeal is an impactful fundraising campaign that helps improve the lives of those who have made great sacrifices for their country and its people. If you’re interested in supporting Poppy Appeal 2021, you can learn more about the cause on their website

How to show your respects by wearing the poppy this November

The majority of people continue to wear paper and plastic poppies as a sign of respect over the remembrance period. The classic poppy slips into a buttonhole or pins to an item of clothing. While the paper and plastic of the poppy can be separated and recycled, eco-conscious individuals are now searching for more sustainable ways to show their respect. If you want to wear the poppy this November, but you don’t want to wear the classic paper and plastic version, there are several other ways you can wear the poppy, show your respects and honour the occasion.

This November, recognize the cultural and historical importance of Remembrance Day by displaying the poppy. If you need an eco-upgrade for some of your accessories, why not opt for poppy print and commemorate the occasion? In addition to aiding the environment, you can help the armed forces community by donating to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal

The Poppy Appeal campaign continues to change and shape the lives of the bravest and most selfless among us, something the Eco Chic community has the greatest admiration for.

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