A Guide to the Anzac Poppy
Many things are associated with Anzac Day these days, from rosemary to the famous Anzac Biscuits. But one symbol is celebrated above all others: the Anzac Poppy.
Here is a guide to the ANZAC poppy, looking at why it is significant, how it is used, and what it means today.
The Symbol of the Fallen
Red poppies are used around the world to symbolise those who have fallen in battle. They are typically worn on Armistice Day, and this is also the case in Australia and New Zealand.
Poppies are used because they were the first flowers to grow in the battlefields of Belgium and France following the fighting in World War I. Poppies are also mentioned in the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, and they quickly became a symbol of all those who had died. A copy of the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ can be found here.
These days, poppies are also used to remember those who have died in more recent wars. Although most countries use poppies on Armistice Day, in Australia and New Zealand it is also common to use poppies on Anzac Day.
How Poppies Are Used in Australia
In Australia, wearing a single poppy is more common on Armistice Day, but wreaths of poppies are used on Anzac Day. According to the Australian War Memorial website, this was a tradition that began in 1940 in a Dawn Service in Palestine where poppies grow in the spring. The soldiers dropped poppies as they passed the Stone of Remembrance, and a wreath of poppies was also laid.
Single poppies are also pushed into the cracks next to the names on the Roll of Honour in Australia. This is actually a practice that dates back to November 11, 1993. At the funeral of the Unknown Australian Soldier, the public could lay a flower next to the tomb, which involved queueing along the Roll of Honour. Many people pushed poppies into the cracks between the names, and the tradition has continued.
How Poppies Are Used in New Zealand
In New Zealand, poppies were first used in 1921. According to the New Zealand History website, the idea was suggested by Colonel Alfred Moffatt, and a large order of silk poppies was made in France. They were planning to hold a Poppy Day appeal for Armistice Day, but the poppies arrived late, so instead they waited until Anzac Day in 1922 to use them. The poppies went on sale the day before, and the fundraising efforts were a huge success, with tens of thousands being sold.
Now, poppies are typically made from paper, and Poppy Day in New Zealand is on the Friday before Anzac Day.
Remember the Sacrifice Represented by the Poppy
The poppy signifies the sacrifice that soldiers from Australia and New Zealand made in World War I, as well as the wars that followed. This Anzac Day, wherever you are, use the symbol of the poppy to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.