The red poppy is the Canadian national symbol of remembrance for the men and woman who gave their lives during military service around the world.
When I moved to Canada I learned about the poppy tradition as a military spouse. It always warms my heart to see others (outside of just the Military Community) showing their support for the troops and veterans while wearing the poppies. It’s something I deeply respect about the Canadian people.
Remembrance Day is November 11 (the 11th day of the 11th month) and on the 11th hour the country holds two minutes of silence to remember all who have fought for the country. This tradition holds roots from when armies stopped fighting in WWI in 1918 (Armistice Day).
However, Canadians wear poppies and recognize their veterans and troops for more than just the one day. Poppies pop up on jackets and shirts during the “Remembrance Day period”, from the last Friday in October until November 11, when the poppies are then left at gravesides, memorials and cenotaphs.
As an outsider, it’s hard to jump in and join a tradition, but wearing the poppy is something that anyone who wants to thank veterans and troops can do. There is really no right or wrong way to wear a poppy. As long as you want to honor veterans and troops, then wearing one is all that really matters. Just place it on the left-side of your jacket or shirt (closest to your heart).
There are different sizes and styles of poppies and none are wrong. This year, an estimated 20 million poppies will be distributed by the Royal Canadian Legion from the boxes left by cash registers at retail locations, or the tables manned by volunteers outside stores.
These small plastic flowers are held on your clothing by a straight pin, which could lead to either sticking yourself throughout the day or to losing the poppy. The Legions prefer for you to not alter the style of the poppy by subbing out the pin (although it is allowed), so consider using an earring back or getting a poppy keeper from the branch if you have issues with the pin.
The Legion poppies are given out for free, but donations are accepted. The donations go to the Poppy Fund, to help veterans and their families.