Scottish Remembrance Poppies
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"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."
~ John McCrae, 1918
In addition to the red poppy symbol, recognized throughout the world and with regional variations, there are also purple poppies to commemorate the animal victims of war. The Scottish version of the red poppy has 4 lobes and no green leaf.
The Red Poppy
Today is Remembrance Day, a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty.
For many, the display of the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance on this day is important to keep the memory of past and present service and sacrifice green.
According to The Royal British Legion there is “no right or wrong way to wear a poppy,” and it is a “matter of personal choice whether an individual chooses to wear a poppy." The Legion also states:
The poppy is
A symbol of Remembrance and hope
Worn by millions of people
Red because of the natural colour of field poppies
The poppy is NOT
A symbol of death or a sign of support for war
A reflection of politics or religion
Red to reflect the colour of blood
Wearing a poppy is a personal choice and reflects individual and personal memories. It is not compulsory but is greatly appreciated by those it helps – our beneficiaries: those currently serving in our Armed Forces, veterans, and their families and dependents.
The poem which inspired the poppy symbolism, John McCrae’s famous poem "In Flanders Field" inspired an American academic, Moina Michael, to make and sell red silk poppies which were brought to England by a French woman, Anna Guérin. The (Royal) British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered 9 million of these poppies and sold them on 11 November that year. The poppies sold out almost immediately and that first ever 'Poppy Appeal' raised over £106,000; a considerable amount of money at the time. This was used to help WW1 veterans with employment and housing.
The following year, Major George Howson set up the Poppy Factory to employ disabled ex-Servicemen. Today, the factory and the Legion's warehouse in Aylesford produces millions of poppies each year.
The demand for poppies in England was so high that few were reaching Scotland. Earl Haig's wife established the 'Lady Haig Poppy Factory' in Edinburgh in 1926 to produce poppies exclusively for Scotland. Over 5 million Scottish poppies (which have four petals and no leaf unlike poppies in the rest of the UK) are still made by hand by disabled ex-Servicemen at Lady Haig's Poppy Factory each year and distributed by our sister charity Poppyscotland.
However, many traditions and interpretations have been built up over time in the general public's mind about poppy wearing and the symbolism they represent.
With respect, here are some of them:
The red represents the blood of all those who gave their lives, the black represents the mourning of those who didn’t have their loved ones return home, and the green leaf represents the grass and crops growing and future prosperity after the war destroyed so much.”
“The leaf should be positioned at 11 o’clock to represent the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the time that World War One formally ended.”
In addition to red poppies, white poppies are also worn to symbolise “the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts” than war, and purple poppies to commemorate the animal victims of war.
See below to see the dance performed by The South Western Scottish, Team Taw, 2018.
And for the British Legion's site describing the poppy, click the British poppies.