a VirtualTourist member from Oroville asked on Nov 7, 2014
Past few weeks on BBC News all the reporters have been wearing these red apples, and just now I saw Tony Blaire and some other politician wearing it. What is it?
It's a poppy and it's common to the Commonwealth. In remembrance of war veterans.
Yes, i do not think it is red apples you saw, but around this time of year there is a remembrance day celebration by the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London to remember those whop lost their lives in the war.
Oh really? Which war?
At first I thought it was for those landslide victims in Sri Lanka, but it's been going on way too long.
I am not quite sure how you associated a poppy flower with an apple but I think your question has been amply answered here now. It is not just "English people" but people from all over the United Kingdom (which, as well as England, includes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and, indeed, many parts of the Commonwealth that wear them.
This is one of the joys of VT, you can come here and learn things. Isn't it great? The tradition arises from the numerous poppies that proliferated in the area of the First World War most affected by that terrible carnage (i.e. modern day Northern France and Belgium) and has been adopted as an international symbol since shortly after World War One. All the monies from the sale of the "apples" goes to support old, infirm and disabled service people but is not restricted to both World Wars.
I hope this assists.
Brian, I'll only comment as this has been common in the US and many other "friendly" countries for much longer than you've been alive. Perhaps this is yet another sad indication of the US educational system catering to other than it's own history.
You were born in the USA and you have never seen the red poppies that people ware for Nov 11 which is Veterans Day. It is celebrated in many countries and you could not put 2+2 together to answer your own question and if your asking this as a joke, I find it quite insulting to all those that that gave their lives.
I know what countries make up the U.K. Thanks [VT member 8c781].
It looks like an apple, and I am not the only one who thinks so apparently. I found this question after I asked this.
It's not really shaped like a poppy, and it's hard to tell what it is from a distance,
My parents thought it was to protest that Putin stopped buying Polish apples. LOL
It seems like a lot of people don't know what it is.
And yes, I agree. That's what I love about this site, though some people are only here to teach.
Yeah, it does, thanks. You see, here when people say "The War", they're usually talking about World War II, but apparently in this case it has to do with WWI, so I am glad I asked. I am kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I know nothing of Britain's involvement in WWI. My High School history class barely touched on WWI.
Anyways, good to know. We have Remembrance Day here too, but we called it "Veteran's Day". I kind of like "Remembrance Day" better.
YVR - 'mericans don't do the Poppy tradition. It's a Commonwealth thing.
yvr. You don't have to be rude. Why is it sad? I don't know EVERYTHING and neither do YOU. This is an educational site, so there is no reason to be rude, just because I didn't know about a certain custom. And no, it is NOT sad. I have lived in the U.S. for 22 years, and have NEVER seen anyone wearing red poppies on Veteran's Day. And this is the first time I've seen this ANYWHERE.
My parents also didn't know what it was, and if you click the question in my response, you will find that a lot of people don't know what it is.
And NO, I could NOT put 2 and 2 together. Can you put everything together? If they only wore it on Remembrance Day, I probably could, but if they wear it 2 weeks before, how am I supposed to know what it is for? It doesn't mean I am an idiot.
YES! THANK YOU [VT member d6834]! I have lived here for over 20 years, and have NEVER seen anyone wearing poppies on Veteran's Day, and he is trying to make ME look like an idiot.
Whose the idiot now?
Right, Al. Along with the countries mentioned, in the U.S the poppy has been a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers for nearly 100 years. Paper poppies - made by disabled veterans - are offered for donations around Memorial and Veterans Day, with the proceeds going to veteran's programs.
There is a very famous poem about the poppies which grew over the battlefields and graves of the many who died in battle in/near Ypres, Belgium. That's why the flower was chosen to honor the sacrifices of soldiers and their families.
The poem is called "In Flanders Fields", and it's a beautiful - although very sad - piece of work. Look it up?
"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row…"
When I was in grade school many years ago in the USA, all of us were given red poppies to wear in remembrance of the WWI veterans. By the time I graduated from college and started teaching, the tradition had disappeared. Too many wars . . . This means most people younger than 50 to 60 have never heard of it in the USA. At the time it was called Veterans Day and my grandfather was a WWI vet so it had personal meaning.
They showed the thousands of poppies around the Tower of London on our news yesterday and it is an overwhelming sight, a poppy for each death. "When will we ever learn" . . . to quote an old song.
Poppies were sold outside the entrance to my former office here in Minneapolis on Veterans Day for as long as I worked there, and I assume they still are although I don't know that for sure. They're also sold near the doors of some shops and grocery stores here at that time of year so the tradition has not become a thing of the past everywhere yet!
Yeah, I guess the tradition died out in the U.S., as I've never seen it, or heard of it in MY lifetime, even the donation thing goodfish mentioned. Could be they only do it in some places. But I've never seen anyone wearing poppies. For Veteran's Day and Memorial Day, we just fly flags. So it shouldn't be a surprise that the younger generation like me, doesn't know about it. My parents are over 50, both from Poland, and have never heard of it either. That must be saying a lot. It must've died out decades ago. Kind of sad. It sounds kind of beautiful, and it's always sad when traditions die out. :(
I'm from Vancouver Canada, not there anymore, mid 40's... I Can't recall Americans ever wearing poppies, at least on the West Coast. When I did live in Canada though, the question, "What is that?", often heard from guests visiting Canada around this time of year.
It's definitely a tradition here in Australia. I'm wearing a paper poppy as I type. Most shopping malls have ex-servicemen selling them and other memorabilia from the 1st of November. I always have a bunch of poppies with me when visiting France and Belgium no matter what month of the year.
The poppies are also part of the remembrance tradition in NZ and Australia on our specific memorial day - April 25 - known locally as ANZAC day. The date was chosen as the day that troops from NZ and Australia landed on the Gallipoli Peninsular (in Turkey) during WW1.
Years ago they were made by disabled veterans in specialist workshops and with a different shape, however now they are made to a new flatter pattern with a central button and at one stage were made in China which caused a little bit of an uproar.
We also remember on the 1st November, however ANZAC day is our special day..
The 'war' was originally to commemorate those who died in World War 1 - 1914-1918. Sometimes referred to as 'the Great War'. Now poppies are worn to commemorate those who have lost their lives in all wars and conflicts, both at home and abroad. It is a sad reflection that you don't know which war but there again, I could also ask "what landslide"! As you will see, this year is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of war. There are a great many visual commemorations going on but perhaps the most visible and poignant is the one at the Tower of London. As a matter of fact, the poppies that are being worn look very much like the wild poppies. Poppies like poor soil and usually lie dormant for an indeterminate amount of time, until the soil is disturbed - hence one of the reasons why they grew in such profusion in the battle fields, the soil being disturbed by bombs, etc. If you were aware of the "apples" being worn, I am somewhat puzzled that you have missed reference to the stories to the war that have appeared almost daily.
I too am very puzzled, but that is a common enough experience.
Brian, if you didn't know about the significance of the poppy (which looks nothing like an apple, given that apples do not have a big black lump in their middles) then perhaps you'd like to read more about why it was chosen as a symbol of remembrance, initially for those who fell in the First World War. The US did take some part in that war, by the way, so it is relevant cultural history for you and not just something only other countries did/do:
Try this: bbc.co.uk/remembrance/how/po...
You might also be interested to know that, at least originally, the creation of those poppies provided essential employment for some of the men who had been injured in that war, as well as their sale raising charitable funds. This was at a time when state benefits did not exist as such in the UK. War widows and to those who were injured in the war received small pensions but not enough to provide a living income. My grandfather was injured at Passchendaele and the effects of that injury, including his inability to work, lasted for the rest of his life (50 years ro so).
You might also like to look at my Flanders page, where you can see some wild poppies, the 'In Flanders Fields' poem written by Canadian Dr John McCrae, and also Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce Et Decorum Est'. The latter poem may help you understand a little of the horrors of that war. Owen was killed.
[original VT link]
Your parents, by the way, may not recall poppies being worn (they may not be a tradition in Poland) but I am certain they will recall 11th November being Independence Day in Poland, with the laying of wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and other ceremonies associated with the First World War.
You are right, leics. Wearing poppies is not customary in Poland and never has been so his parents might not know of it. I myself found out about this custom only when we got access to British TV. But I find it amazing that Brian has never heard of WWI, in which the Americans played an important role too. I am sure he knew of 11 November being celebrated in Poland but perhaps he never thought to inquire what it was for.
To all those who are not aware of what it means to people, tune in to BBC TV this coming Sunday and watch the ever moving ceremony as it unfolds.
Much insight has been given on here but watching it as it unfolds will tell much more
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! Reread my post. I didn't say I NEVER heard of WWI, I said I never heard of Britain's involvement in it. In history we only talked about Francis Ferdinand, Polish partitions, and Lusithania. Nothing else.
Well written Fergy. I get mine every year from the English church over in Dinard
> I said I never heard of Britain's involvement in it.
You never cease to amaze me, Brian.
The UK (which you call 'Britain') fought in both the First and Second World Wars from start to finish, losing between 5850 000 and 1 million people (including civilians) in the former. There is no way to exactly quantify deaths because so many were never found, so there could never be 100% certainty.
Did you know that every year new graves are discovered from those battlefields and that the remains of the soldiers within them are finally re-buried with full military honours? Or that farmers till...even after so long...regularly unearth unexploded ordinance from that war? The shells etc are set at the roadside and are regularly collected by bomb disposal experts *still* employed to do that job after almost 100 years.
Learning a little more about the sheer awfulness of that war might help you to understand why Remembrance Day, and the poppies in those countries which use them as a tangible symbol of remembrance, still hold such resonance even amongst those who are far, far too young to have any experience of conflict.
Read, learn more, understand more deeply.
Very nicely put J. Here in Brittany it is estimated that 45% of the male Breton population that went to the front from 1914- onwards were lost. approx 130.000 plus a further 110.000 during the following years through injury, effects of gas and poor treatment.
When I was in grade school in the US (also many years ago!) we had a school assembly every year on Veterans Day and the principal read us the poem "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae.
I suggest you read some literature on the subject of WWI to realise the enormity of it. I can recommend e.g. Pat Barker's trilogy - 'Regeneration', 'The Eye in the Door' and 'The Ghost Road'.
Like Leics, you amaze me - how can you possibly have talked about Franz Ferdinand, Polish partitions and the Lusitania (I assume - not Lithuania?) and the UK or British involvement never arose. Were you never curious or were you just satisfied with sound-bite history isolated in a vacuum.
Here's a little piece picked up from the free newsletter sent out in the Pyrenées-Orientales in SW France.