Posted by: anglopole | October 31, 2008

Britain goes poppy!

I don’t really like this time of year. The days are shorter, it gets much colder, and this gloomy atmosphere all around…. The end of October is Halloween, of course (today, actually), which I find a ridiculous holiday, to be honest, especially in societies that regard themselves as civilized and materialistic…. – funny to see this monster worship everywhere here, really. Back in Poland, the beginning of November is marked with the All Saints Day when masses of people visit all the cemeteries there are in cities and villages. Not my thing either. It’s just way too depressing.

But there are ways of remembering those that passed away that I find to be more…erm, optimistic, so to say. One of them is is to be observed in Britain now.


The Remembrance Day is taking place on 11th of Nov. (the same day as the Independence Day in Poland) here. The day is also known as the Poppy Day.


So, even though the celebrations are still two weeks away, Britain is already going poppy and I like it, especially when youngsters choose to wear the flower and take part in the remembrance galas and festivities (following one of the comments I’m editing this part) celebrations – it means all is not lost and there is some hope for them developing a historical awareness…. or am I being naïve? Anyway, for me, the poppy brings some colour to this greyest month of the year and a positive touch amidst all this monster craze 😉

 Some things are definitely worth commemorating. Here are some photos from last year’s Remembrance Day celebrations where I live:







  1. I had never heard of Poppy Day before, most likely because I am an American.

    It sounds great.
    We do something similar on Veterans Day, but most the flowers we wear are tiny fake flowers now.

    Doesn’t matter to me that they are fake flowers though, I feel proud to wear one each Veterans Day and it is such a great opportunity to go directly to those who served and tell them Thank You.


  2. Thanks for your comment Warnick 🙂 Exactly, it is a great way to show gratitude to those who fought for our freedom, and that we’ve learnt from the grim history of all the wars – as they say: who’s not learnt from history is likely to repeat it…


  3. I actually found Poppy day to be more creepy than Halloween as a child growing up! Of course we should learn about our past mistakes and celebrate those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, but I feel that this event is just forced upon everybody (any public figure who chooses not to wear a poppy is almost considered a traitor). I’m always slightly concerned that it almost glamourises war and the military too.
    Finally, how long are we going to continue to celebrate the end of the first world war (11th November)? There are probably only about 2 soldiers left who fought in that war, and of course it was not the ‘war to end all wars’, but the beginning of larger conflict on the continent.


  4. Adam, I think I appreciate what you are saying… True, the both the WWs are long gone, but the attrocities committed in those years were horrible enough to be forever grateful that these wars are over. Besides, there’s this whole thing about what Britishness really is and few people asked in various surveys can answer this question. IMHO, being aware of what happened in the past of a country is a cruicial part of identifying onself with the country. What’s more, only happenings that were serious turning points in the history are being celebrated. There’s the Independence Day in the USA, there’s one in Poland, and I’m sure every country has a day like this. When a foreigner wants to become a citizen of the UK, they need to take exams both in language, politics and history of the country. The funny thing is that at the end of the day, those naturalized citizens seem to know more of the UK than people born and brought up here….
    At first I found the poppy thing weird but then I grew to see the depth of meaning attached to it 🙂


  5. I suppose people enjoy the festivities in Holloween, but I wouldn’t know.


  6. It’s good to see Remembrance Sunday having something of a resurgence, though it’s a pity the principal reason is the current conflict. When I was a child it was still taken very seriously – cars and buses would stop in the streets for the two minutes silence – but that almost disappeared in the 80s and 90s. For a long time it was hard to even find a place selling poppies.

    @Adam It’s true that Remembrance Sunday is specifically a commemoration of Armistice Day in 1919, but the British Legion poppies have always been sold to support all ex-servicemen and women, whether involved any of the subsequent conflicts or not.


  7. Thanks for your kind words about something that is still taken very seriously in Britain.

    However, I am afraid your words are all wrong. In Britian, there is no celebration, no galas or festivites . It is not a holiday. There is very little joy or happiness. It is a serious, respectful occasion. The British use words like commemoration, not celebration, ceremony, remembrance.

    The object is simply to remember the dead. There is no celebration of victory or glamourisation of war. There are no full scale military parades, the veterans march without guns, merely to remember their comrades.

    If any of you are in Poland, go to the Commonwealth cemetary in Poznan (are there any others?). There is some corner of a foreign field…..

    Island1, the Armistice was in 1918, but never mind.


  8. Richard, thanks for your comment! Yes, I should probably clarify this ‘festivities/galas’ thing. Sure it is a serious event, yet, in some towns either right before or after there are galas organised where members of royal legion march through the streets of a town or a village and are welcomed and cheered by the locals. Neverhteless, the word ‘gala’ indeed has more entertaining connotations, so I’ll replace it with something more appropriate – thanks again.


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