"In Flanders Fields the poppies blow... Between the crosses row on row."
Thursday November 11th marks Remembrance Day. Also known as Armistice Day, the eleventh day of the eleventh month is commemorated each year to mark the end of World War I in 1918. In 1921, the poppy was adopted as the flower of remembrance, meaning this year marks the 100th anniversary of the remembrance poppy in Canada.
With hostilities formally ending, the armistice took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning on November 11th, 1918 - the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month." This period in time marks the signing of the peace agreement (armistice) between the Allies and Germany outside Compiégne, France. On Remembrance Day, Canadians pause to honour the men and women who have served and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict, and peace. More than 2,300,000 Canadians have served and more than 118,000 have made the ultimate sacrifice.
In the run-up to Remembrance Day, replica poppies are sold by the Royal Canadian Legion with monies donated providing assistance to veterans. The reason the poppy is worn for Remembrance Day can be attributed to Canadian John McCrae, a physician, soldier and poet who noticed how quickly poppies had grown over the graves of soldiers who had died during the Battle of Ypres. This inspired him to write the famous war poem, In Flanders Fields.
With the intention of Remembrance Day being to honour and remember the fallen, in Canada, November 11th is a public holiday and federal statutory holiday, as well as a statutory holiday in all three territories and in six of the ten provinces. Whilst not a stat’ holiday in Ontario, many people across the province visually celebrate and remember all those who fought and died in the war, and all those who continue to do so.
Poppies are the birth flower for August and symbolize peace, strength of character and imagination. They are also considered a symbol of both sleep and death, with the red poppy symbolizing the blood of fallen soldiers on the battlefields of war. According to Greek and Roman mythology, poppies were used on tombstones to symbolize eternal sleep. Here are a few more interesting facts about the poignant poppy:
- Not all poppies are red - they range in colour from white to purple
- The 2004 Canadian "poppy" quarter was the world's first coloured circulation coin
- The California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, is the state flower of California
- The poppy is part of the coat of arms of North Macedonia
- Ancient Egyptian doctors would have their patients eat seeds from a poppy to relieve pain. Poppy seeds contain small quantities of both morphine and codeine
Whilst we don’t carry poppies at Oleander as a cut flower, we are showing our support and gratitude by having poppies available in store in exchange for a donation to the Royal Canadian Legion. If you can’t get to us, many places in the community, such as banks, supermarkets and coffee shops also carry them, so pick one up and show your support by wearing a poppy this November.