Starting the last Friday in October, Canadians buy poppies from the Royal Canadian Legion to honour the sacrifices made by veterans.
And it might not be immediately evident to people who don’t have close connections to members of the military, but there is actually a right and wrong way to wear a poppy.
How to wear a poppy
The poppy should be worn on your left side, over your heart, the Legion explains on their website. It shouldn’t be fastened with any kind of pin that goes on top of the poppy and obscures it, unless it’s the black centre pin available at some branches that mimics the centre of the poppy.
If it isn’t securely fashioned and you don’t have access to one of those centre pins, fasten it from the back.
Poppies are freely available to any Canadian who wants to wear them, the Legion says, although people are asked to donate if they can. On their website, the Legion lists businesses that carry the poppy, including Bank of Montreal, Shoppers Drug Mart, Hudson’s Bay, and Tim Hortons. You can also find your local Legion branch to see more places near you.
If you’re out of the country, you might be able to get a poppy at a Legion branch, or else through a Canadian embassy or consulate.
What do I do with my poppy after Remembrance Day?
Most people wear poppies up until Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. If you’re attending a Remembrance ceremony, you can place your poppy onto a grave, a wreath, or a cenotaph. If not, the Legion suggests the poppy should either be “stored appropriately” or “disposed of respectfully.” If you see a poppy on the street, pick it up.
You can also keep wearing the poppy throughout the year, if you want. “It is not inappropriate to wear a Poppy during other times to commemorate Fallen Veterans and it is an individual choice to do so,” the Legion says.
What happens to the money raised by poppy sales?
The Legion supports veterans by giving them grants for food, housing, and medicine; providing educational bursaries for their children and relatives; and providing accessibility modifications for those with disabilities, to name a few of their missions. More information can be found on the Poppy Trust Fund website.
Where does the poppy come from?
Poppies have symbolized the sacrifices of fallen soldiers since the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, according to the BBC. It came to Canada at the end of the First World War, when Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae wrote “In Flanders Field” about the site of one of the war’s major battlegrounds in Belgium. McCrae had been a field surgeon in the Canadian artillery.
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row,” the poem reads.
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