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“If you see a poppy
And if it nods its head
Go around it,
For it marks a soldier’s bed”
Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day marks the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. Commonwealth countries also mark this event formally also on Remembrance Sunday, this year on November 14.
The remembrance of war dead through the wearing of symbolic poppies has evolved over time to include a flower language for natural variations of the wild poppy. A blood red poppy with a black cross at the centre signifies the soldier, sailor or airman who ‘fell’ in battle; a red poppy with a half of a black cross passing through the centre indicates a soldier who was wounded; a quarter of a black cross on a single petal, represents the 'walking wounded'; while a white poppy growing amongst a patch of red poppies or a red poppy with pale marks on the bloom signifies the boy soldiers, sailors and pilots who lied about their age to enlist. Pale pink or purple poppies are reminders of the animals casualties of war, and poppies with six or more black marks around the centre are a reminder of the many sets of brothers who died while serving. We join with others this day in remembrance of service and sacrifice. 🌺
The beautiful poppy, often grown for its colourful flowers, has a long history of symbolic and medicinal use throughout history. In Greek and Roman mythology, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Today, poppies are used as emblems on tombstones to symbolize eternal sleep or resurrection after death.
Poppy petals may be of almost any color and some have markings. In the temperate zones, poppies bloom from spring into early summer.The pollen of the oriental poppy, Papaver orientale, is dark blue, that of the field or corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is grey to dark green.
Poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: Sleep because the opium extracted from them is a sedative, and death from the blood-red color of the red poppy. .
The poppy of wartime remembrance is Papaver rhoeas, the red-flowered corn poppy. This poppy is a common weed in Europe and is found in many locations, including Flanders, which is the setting of the famous poem "In Flanders Fields" by the Canadian surgeon and soldier John McCrae.
For more about the language of the poppy flower and its varied symbolism with respect to the war dead, click the poppies.