Brown leaf on poppy meaning: why some Poppy Appeal 2021 remembrance poppies appear to have brown leaves

Viewers of certain TV programmes have noted that presenters’ poppies appear to sport brown leaves - but do they really, and what is their meaning?

As we near 11 November, the iconic red poppy symbol of remembrance for those who gave their life in conflict becomes ever more prevalent on our television screens.

The poppy is an instantly recognisable image, one which has not delineated from its design in decades (there are even ‘proper’ ways of wearing one).

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But people are starting to notice that some TV presenters appear to be wearing poppies with brown leaves, instead of ones with traditional green foliage.

Why is this? And what does the brown leaf mean?

Here is everything you need to know.

Why are some poppy leaves brown?

In actuality, it’s unlikely that any of the poppy leaves you may have seen on your TV screens will be brown.

It could all just be a trick of the light.

One of the first programmes to first stir up debate around the colour of poppy leaves was Match of the Day, the BBC’s flagship footballing fixture which is presented from within a largely virtual studio.

Such flashy backdrops are usually generated with the presenters sitting in front of a green screen, with a computerised image being overlaid onto the background.

Anything that matches the colour of that green screen in the image will be replaced with the artificial background.

So it could be that the presenters are wearing slightly off-colour versions of the poppy in order for them to be presented properly on television.

It would look very strange indeed if Alan Shearer had a leaf-shaped hole in his chest, through which you could see the Match of the Day studio background.

What could be making them appear brown?

It could also be that the leaves are not brown at all, but their usual colour is being interfered with by the vast amounts of green surrounding the presenters, making them appear to be brownish.

Or it could just be a contrast issue dependent on what the presenters’ have chosen to wear that day; certain colours can take on different hues when placed adjacent to others.

From our analysis, it also appears as if the green stems of the poppies were still showing as ‘correct’ on Match of the Day, so it could be that the leaves are indeed a different colour.

Of course, if it does turn out that there is another, more tangible reason for certain TV presenters to be wearing brown leafed poppies (this isn’t the first year they have been worn in front of green screens after all), we will update this article accordingly.

Why do we wear poppies?

People can usually be seen wearing poppies in the run up to Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday and on the two commemorations days.

The red poppy is a symbol of remembrance and hope for a peaceful future, and is worn as a show of support for the Armed Forces community.

The Royal British Legion website said: “The poppy is a well-known and well-established symbol, one that carries a wealth of history and meaning with it.”

The origins of the poppy lie in the opening lines of war poem ‘In Flanders Field’ by Canadian officer John McCrae, which was first published in December 1915.

The poem reads: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row.”

The flower was then adopted as a symbol by the newly-formed Royal British Legion and continues to be worn in remembrance today, with the Legion organising the Poppy Appeal each year.

When is Remembrance Day 2021?

Remembrance Day will take place on Thursday 11 November 2021, which is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that marked the end of the First World War in 1918.

Remembrance Sunday always falls on the second weekend of November, the closest to 11 November, which means this year’s memorial takes place on Sunday 14 November.

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