The History of the ANZAC Day Poppy

To symbolise Australia’s recognition of ANZAC day, a few traditions are always abided by. ANZAC cookies are consumed, the ANZAC day parade is celebrated, a moment of silence is observed, and lastly, red poppies are worn on Australians’ lapels, dresses and shirts. Since we’re a flowers blog, here’s a little bit of history as to why the red poppy has become a symbol of remembrance at ANZAC day observances.

In Flanders Fields

The red poppy is also known as the Flanders poppy. That’s because the poppy was one of the first things to grow in the mud and soil of war-ravaged Flanders in Northern France. Worn internationally on Remembrance Day (11 November) as well as on ANZAC day (25 April), the meaning of the poppy was first captured by a poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. Written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, the poppies became a tribute to the unmarked graves of men.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Growth & Hope

However, today, the flower is a symbol of hope and regeneration in the face of destruction. This is because in 1921, the British Legion chose the poppy as the official emblem to honour the dead, and help the living come to terms with their loss. The red poppy now helps keep alive the memories of the departed soldiers and, by acknowledging the site of the battleground in France, marks commonality between nations.

Rosemary

And let’s not forget Rosemary! It’s also worn on ANZAC day to remember the World Wars. Since ancient times, Rosemary has been believed to improve people’s memories. This and the fact that it grows wild on the Gallipoli peninsula mean the herb is a natural symbol of remembrance. Sprigs are usually handed out by Legacy and most RSL clubs.

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If you’d like to support Legacy Australia for the upcoming ANZAC day, please visit their donation page. Otherwise, we hope you have a wonderful ANZAC day. If you’d like to give some flowers to a loved one who remembers the war, Lucy’s Topaz bouquet features gorgeous pink and amber posy including roses, fressias, chincherinchee and of course, poppies. Lest we forget.