As the weather gets colder and November approaches, many people start to wonder when it’s appropriate to begin wearing a Remembrance Day poppy. There are no hard and fast rules about when to start wearing a poppy, but there are some general guidelines based on tradition and etiquette.
What is the significance of the remembrance poppy?
The remembrance poppy is a symbol that is worn leading up to Remembrance Day on November 11th. This date marks the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918. The poppy recalls the blood-red flowers which grew on the battlefields of Belgium and France during the First World War. The poppy has become a way to honor those who sacrificed their lives in service and to support veterans.
When do poppies go on sale?
Poppies are distributed by The Royal Canadian Legion. Poppies go on sale around the last Friday of October or first week of November each year. The Legion suggests wearing a poppy for the two weeks leading up to Remembrance Day on November 11th. Here are the poppy campaign start dates for the next few years:
|Year||Poppy campaign start date|
Poppies are distributed freely, but donations are encouraged. The fundraiser helps support veterans and active service members.
When should I start wearing my poppy?
There are no official rules dictating when it’s appropriate to start wearing a poppy, but there are some general guidelines:
- You can start wearing a poppy as soon as they become available in your area, around the last weekend of October/first week of November.
- It’s most common to start wearing poppies by November 1st or 2nd.
- You should aim to be wearing a poppy for the 2 weeks leading up to Remembrance Day on November 11th.
- It’s acceptable to keep wearing your poppy up until November 11th and even a few days after Remembrance Day.
- You should remove your poppy by mid to late November at the latest.
So in summary, any time from the start of November to November 11th are the accepted dates for wearing a remembrance poppy.
Are there any poppy wearing etiquette rules?
There are no official rules, but there are some traditional etiquette guidelines for wearing poppies respectfully:
- Poppies should be worn on the left side, over the heart. This is to symbolize keeping memories of those who sacrificed close to your heart.
- Poppies should be removed before bedtime and not worn all day and night. They are meant to be worn when you are out and about.
- The center black portion should remain intact. The center is meant to represent the blackened scorched earth of the battlefields.
- Poppies should not be worn casually stuck into a bag or purse. Treat it respectfully.
- Don’t decorate, embellish or adorn the poppy.
- Poppies should not be worn on costumes or outdir.
Following these simple etiquette guidelines allows you to respectfully wear a poppy to honor Remembrance Day.
Should I wear a poppy on Remembrance Day?
You should definitely wear a poppy on November 11th for Remembrance Day events and observances. Wearing a poppy on your lapel is a sign of respect on Remembrance Day and shows you are honoring the sacrifice of veterans. It is highly recommended to wear a poppy when attending Remembrance Day ceremonies, moments of silence, or other commemorations.
Are poppies only for Remembrance Day?
While poppies are strongly associated with Remembrance Day on November 11th, they are also worn as a more general symbol of remembrance and respect for veterans who served Canada. Poppies can be worn:
- For any commemoration related to honor Canada’s veterans and war dead
- For Remembrance Day ceremonies
- For any event or occasion to remember lives lost in war and military operations
- To show appreciation and support for active service members and veterans
- To fundraise for veterans programs and services
So while symbolic poppies are strongly linked to November 11th Remembrance Day, they can be worn any time to show respect for those who served.
Do I have to wear a red poppy?
The red poppy is the traditional symbol of remembrance in Canada. However, there are some other color poppy options:
- White poppy – Worn as an anti-war symbol and to remember civilian casualties of war. Less common.
- Purple poppy – Commemorates animals that served in war like horses, dogs, pigeons etc.
- Black poppy – Worn by some veterans to mourn comrades who died by suicide.
While alternative color poppies have different meanings, the traditional red poppy remains the most widely accepted symbol to wear leading up to Remembrance Day.
What if I forget to wear my poppy?
Forgetting to wear your poppy some days is understandable – pin it on first thing when you realize. If it’s November 11th and you’re headed to a Remembrance Day event, try to get a poppy even if you have to buy one. Wearing a poppy shows respect on Remembrance Day.
If you can’t access one, simply bow your head during silences and ceremonies. The most important thing is taking a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of veterans.
Do other countries wear remembrance poppies?
Wearing remembrance poppies is a tradition that originated in the Commonwealth nations. Here are some details on poppy wearing traditions in other countries:
Poppies are worn leading up to Remembrance Day on November 11th just as they are in Canada. The Royal British Legion organizes the poppy appeal and distribution.
Australia and New Zealand
Poppies are worn before Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 11th. ANZAC day on April 25th is also a major day of war remembrance in Australia and New Zealand.
Wearing remembrance poppies is not a tradition in the US for Veterans Day on November 11th. Instead, Americans wear patriotic apparel like red, white and blue clothing.
Wearing a remembrance poppy is an important Canadian tradition to honor those who sacrificed for our country. While there are no strict rules, aim to wear your poppy in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day from around November 1st to 11th. Make sure to wear your poppy to any Remembrance ceremonies or commemorations. Follow basic poppy etiquette, and wear it over your heart with respect and pride.