If you’re going to rock a poppy, you better get it right.
Otherwise, it really defeats the whole purpose (and you look like a bit of a fool). Judging from various sightings on Toronto streets, however, more than a few people haven’t gotten the memo on poppy etiquette. Like every year, boxes full of poppies from the Royal Canadian Legion have sprung up around the city, available for a donation of your choice. The proceeds are used to support Canadian veterans, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP through a variety of sources, from access to medication to housing.
I’ll admit (and I shudder with shame at the memory) that in elementary school, one of our favourite pastimes was to take a poppy, pull out the pin and its centre and put it over our lips so they looked like they were large and lipstick-covered. Totally inappropriate? Of course. But we were six-years-old and didn’t know any better. As a functioning adult in society, however, you should very much respect the poppy or not wear one at all. For those in need of a refresher, a poppy is a symbol of remembrance and respect for our veterans. Poppy distribution started on October 27 and will last until Remembrance Day on November 11. Of course, nobody has to wear a poppy, but if you have a public speaking engagement or something of the sort, it’s probably a good idea.
The poppy should be worn on the left-hand-side of one’s shirt or jacket over the heart – and this leaves no room for deviation (meaning, don’t decorate your backpack with a poppy, please). The other day I saw 60-something-year-old man – who was definitely old enough to know better – wearing a poppy that was attached to his jacket via another pin through the centre: This is also a major no. While they are not always the sturdiest things in the world, there’s a reason a poppy is complete with its own pin (and you can get rubber stoppers to avoid the pin prick paranoia).
There is little room for creativity when it comes to the poppy – don’t try to make your own (it sounds ridiculous, but actually needs to be said). One thing that may come as a surprise, however, is that you can wear multiple poppies, something Queen Elizabeth II has been known to do in the past. The wearing of multiple poppies may symbolize the recognition of multiple countries or individuals (just don’t go overboard). If you want to explore other “poppy possibilities,” the Legion actually has a full online poppy store, featuring everything from poppy-adorned clothing, to gifts and watches (maybe a good holiday gift for the grandparents?).
While you may like the way a poppy looks on your jacket, don’t over wear it. Typically, the poppy is removed after November 11. It may also, however be appropriate to wear a poppy on a few other occasions, including ceremonies to honour veterans. When you’re done with your poppy, remember to dispose of it in a respectful way. There’s no need to save it for next year – the poppy boxes aren’t going anywhere.