If you want to follow the rules of the Royal British Legion, you should wear your poppy on your left lapel.
This week marks the start of the British Legion's 2022 Poppy Appeal.
Millions of commemorative flowers are produced each year to honor Britain's military war dead, and the red paper poppy has become an iconic symbol.
Since its inception in the 1920s, the appeal has raised hundreds of millions of pounds for serving and ex-serving British Armed Forces personnel and their families. Here's everything you need to know about it, including how to properly wear your poppy.
When will the 2022 Poppy Appeal begin?
This year's Poppy Appeal will begin on Thursday, October 27th.
Volunteers should be selling poppies on the streets and in shops across the country as of today.
Some major cities have their own poppy days, during which remembrance events are held. These are their names:
- Saturday, October 29th, Cardiff
- Tuesday, November 1st, Leeds
- Thursday, November 3rd, London
- Gatwick - November 4th
- Saturday, November 5th, Bristol
- Saturday, November 5, Manchester
- Birmingham, Tuesday, November 8th
Is there a 'correct' way to wear the poppy?
Some people believe that a poppy should be worn on the left lapel to keep it close to your heart; this is also the side on which the Armed Forces wear their medals.
Others argue that the symbol should be worn by men on the left and by women on the right, as is customary for a badge or brooch.
The placement of the flower's leaf has also sparked debate, with one theory claiming that it should be at 11 a.m., representing the signing of the Armistice at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
The British Legion, on the other hand, insists that there is no right or wrong way.Veteran Bernard Morgan, 98, at the Hay's Galleria in London for the launch of The Royal British Legion 2022 Poppy Appeal (Photo: Victoria Jones/PA).
When is it appropriate to stop wearing a poppy?
There is no set date when you must stop wearing the symbol, so there is no need to be concerned about getting it wrong.
"There is no right or wrong way to wear a poppy - except to wear it with pride," according to the Royal British Legion.
"You can wear a Poppy all year round," the charity adds, "but traditionally, people stop wearing a Poppy after Armistice Day on 11 November or Remembrance Sunday, whichever is later." ”
Remembrance Sunday always falls on the second weekend of November, so this year's memorial will take place on November 13th.
This is in addition to the annual commemorations on 11 November, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the First World War in 1918.
King George V hosted Raymond Poincaré, President of France, at Buckingham Palace for the first official celebrations on the date in 1919.
All Commonwealth nations observe Armistice Day, while many other countries observe the anniversary as a day of remembrance.
At 11 a.m., a one- or two-minute silence is observed to commemorate the precise time when hostilities ended in 1918 - the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Why do we wear poppy flowers?
The origins of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance can be traced back to the First World War poem, In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian officer John McCrae and first published in December 1915.
Its first lines describe how flowers grew from the graves of soldiers across Western Europe during the war:
The poppies blow in the fields of Flanders.
Row by row, between the crosses
As the war came to an end, Moina Michael, an American poet, used In Flanders Fields as inspiration for her own work, We Shall Keep the Faith, and began wearing and distributing red poppies as a symbol of remembrance.
The custom quickly spread to the United Kingdom, where the first Poppy Day was held on November 11, 1921, the third anniversary of Armistice Day.
It was chosen as a symbol by the newly formed Royal British Legion, a charity founded to support members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, as well as their families.Veterans march down Whitehall on November 14, 2021, in London, for the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph (Photo: Justin Tallis/Getty Images).
According to the charity's annual accounts, their first Poppy Appeal in 1921 raised £106,000; the 2016 campaign raised £49,000. 2m
The appeal has grown from the production of poppies in a room above a shop in Bermondsey, south London, to a facility in Richmond where 50 ex-servicemen and women work all year round to produce tens of millions of the symbolic flowers.
To commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, the artwork Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was installed in the moat of the Tower of London in 2014.
It was made up of 888,246 ceramic poppies, one for each member of the British Armed Forces who died during the conflict, with the final flower planted on 11 November.
Outside of the United Kingdom, poppies are primarily worn in Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and to a lesser extent in the United States.
Whereas poppies in England have two petals and a green leaf, PoppyScotland's Scottish versions have four petals and no leaf.
The Scottish charity, which merged with the Royal British Legion in 2011, explains on its website: "Aside from being botanically incorrect, making leaves for all poppies would cost £15,000 - money we believe is better spent on veterans."
"We may be slightly biased, but we think the Scottish poppy looks better as well." ”
Why is the poppy so divisive?
Some critics claim that the poppy's symbolism has become politicized over time, and that it has been used to glorify conflict.
For these reasons, prominent RAF veteran and author Harry Leslie Smith announced in 2014 that he would refrain from wearing the symbol.
The Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow cited "poppy fascism" as a major reason he chose not to wear one on air, referring to the abuse public figures have received for refusing to wear one.
"There is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there - 'he damned well must wear a poppy," he wrote in 2006. 'Well, I do in my private life, but I will not wear it or any other symbol on the air.' ”
The poppy has proven to be a contentious issue in sports, with Republic of Ireland football international James McClean receiving persistent abuse since moving to England for refusing to wear shirts bearing the symbol.
He was born and raised in Derry/Londonderry, where he shared an estate with six people killed by the British Army on Bloody Sunday in 1972.
In a match programme for his former club, West Bromwich Albion, McClean explained his decision in 2015: "If the poppy was simply about World War One and Two victims, I'd wear it without a problem."
"I would wear it every day of the year if that were the case, but it doesn't; it represents all of the conflicts in which Britain has been involved." I can't wear anything that represents my family's history in Derry because of it. ”
Prince William and former Prime Minister David Cameron both condemned Fifa's decision to deny the England team permission to wear the poppy during a match against Spain in 2011.
The global governing body of football concluded that allowing the symbol would violate their rules prohibiting "political, religious, or commercial messages," though they eventually allowed the poppy to be displayed on black armbands.
England has since been fined, along with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, for wearing the poppy during games.
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