When do you start wearing a poppy? Remembrance Day tradition explained - what are the rules on wearing poppies

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Poppies are used to help raise money for people affected by war

Remembrance Day events are set to take place across the nation and in the run up to this you can expect to see poppies cropping up on people’s clothing and in shops.

But what is the meaning behind wearing a poppy and when should you start to wear one?

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Poppies are used to honour those who lost their life fighting for their country (Getty Images)Poppies are used to honour those who lost their life fighting for their country (Getty Images)
Poppies are used to honour those who lost their life fighting for their country (Getty Images) | Getty Images

What does the poppy represent?

The poppy is a symbol of remembrance used to commemorate those who lost their lives in war.

Poppies are used today as a mark of respect and are generally worn in the build up to important events such as Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday.

The Royal British Legion (RBL) says: “Our red poppy is a symbol of both remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.”

Origins of the poppy

Poppies have become synonymous with war as they are the flowers which grew on the battlegrounds after the culmination of the First World War which took place from 1914 until 1918.

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The origins of the poppy date back to a well known war poem ‘In Flanders Field’ which was written by Canadian Officer and poet John McCrae in 1915. During the poem McCrae reflects on the loss of his close friend Ypres and reflects on the sight of the poppies. The poem reads: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row.”

McCrae’s poem went on to inspire American humanitarian Moina Michael, who campaigned to make the poppy of a symbol of remembrance. In 1918 Michael wrote the poem We Shall Keep The Faith which reads: “And now the Torch and Poppy red, we wear in honour of our dead.”

The poppy went on to become a national symbol throughout large parts of the world including Canada, USA, Australia and the UK.

Poppies were first sold in the UK in 1921 and this year they will celebrate their 101 year anniversary.

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When should you start to wear your poppy?

Poppies will start to go on sale throughout the UK at the end of October and will be available to purchase from the Royal British Legion in most shops.

Generally speaking most people start to wear poppies from 31 October as this marks 11 days before Remembrance Day.

There are differing opinions on when you should wear your poppy and some people suggest that it should only be worn on Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday.

How should you wear a poppy?

It is advised that you should wear your poppy on the left side as it is designed to symbolise that the people we have lost remain close to our hearts.

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When is Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday?

Remembrance Day will take place on Friday 11 November 2022. The event commemorates the anniversary of the signing of armistice which took place in 1918 - marking the end of the First World War.

On Remembrance Day a two minute silence is held each year. It takes place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in accordance with armistice. This tradition has been followed every year since 1919 and was first started by King George V.

Remembrance Sunday takes place on the second Sunday in November each year. This year’s event will take place on Sunday 13 November.  The occasion honours the contribution of the British Commonwealth military and civilian men and women during both of the first two World Wars and also later conflicts.

Where does the money go when you buy a poppy?

Poppies are sold throughout the Commonwealth in a bid to raise money for servicemen and women whose lives have been affected by wars.

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