Poppy Season: What Are the Options?

Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in 1855. The company began in Horsham, West Sussex, and now has a further three offices across the county – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint. As the country prepares to remark Remembrance Day on 11th November, many people are wearing poppies to show their support. But, […]

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Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors staff member Becky

Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in 1855. The company began in Horsham, West Sussex, and now has a further three offices across the county – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint. As the country prepares to remark Remembrance Day on 11th November, many people are wearing poppies to show their support. But, as Becky shares, the red poppy is actually just the start of the campaign…

Each November, many members of the public choose to wear a red poppy in recognition of those who have died during conflict. The tradition began after the First World War, and in our digital age, some people are criticised for their choices regarding whether or not to wear a poppy.

However, the original red poppy isn’t the only one which is available. Read on to learn more about other options…

The Purple poppy
Possibly the most well-known non-red poppy, the purple poppy commemorates animals which have died or served in conflict. The purple poppy was first launched by charity, Animal Aid, in 2006 and was, in fact, replaced by a pawprint enamel badge in 2015. This was partly due to perceived confusion over the purple poppy, and also in recognition of the fact that the charity sees the animals as victims, rather than heroes, due to animals not ever choosing to enter service in this way.

Horses and other equines – such as donkeys – have been used by various militaries for centuries, serving as transportation for humans and goods. Although they have now been largely replaced by vehicles, they still undertake some active and ceremonial duties today. Approximately eight million horses and donkeys died during the First World War.

In addition to equines, armed forces make frequent use of animals such as dogs for a variety of roles in the present day, and the purple badges recognise them, birds, and other creatures who helped as well.

The White poppy
Less appreciated is the white poppy. The idea of these was first mooted by a group of pacifists in 1926, though no action was taken at the time. The idea reappeared in 1933, when the Co-operative Women’s Guild began to sell them, and were joined by the Peace Pledge Union in 1936. The Peace Pledge Union continues to sell White poppies today.

Those who purchase and wear white poppies are generally recognised as being pacifists, or even anti-conflict, and some have received abuse for making this choice. Others argue that the white poppy is more appropriate as it does not have a specific political leaning – whereas red poppies do to an extent, due to a sitting government choosing to enter or continue conflict – and is therefore about neutrality as well as peace.

Some people choose to wear a combination of red and white poppies, to recognise those who have died, whilst also expressing that they disagree with the idea of conflict. In either case, white poppies have steadily increased in popularity in recent years, and more people are feeling confident to wear them.

The new Red poppy
For 2023, the red poppy has gone plastic-free. Many will remember decades of poppies being made from two pieces of paper – a red flower and a green leaf – plus a black plastic centre and green plastic stem holding it all together. With single-use plastics becoming increasingly unpopular, the Royal British Legion has changed the design this year to ensure that the beloved poppy is more sustainable.

There are also other options – each year, enamel badges are now produced, which are much easier to bring out year on year to reuse (many of us will know the nightmare and anxiety of losing our paper ones when removing a coat! They also don’t tend to hold up well to the famous British weather conditions). Large poppies, brooches, wristbands and more are also available to purchase.

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Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

November 8, 2023

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