Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Christmas Fairs and Poppies

On Sunday, we went to a little Christmas fair at the Cookham Dean village hall. It was organised by one of the local pre-school groups, Noah's Ark. It was cute, if small. Although there were a few stands for adult presents, lots of the stuff was for toddlers and kids, so there wasn't a lot of direct interest for us. Next year, it would likely be a good place to pick up a few things though. People were friendly, which is always nice.

The Cookham Dean village hall is right across from the war memorial. There were fresh poppy wreaths on it, as the Brits always commemorate (celebrate wouldn't be the right word) Armistice Day (aka Rememberance Day, Veterans Day, Poppy Day) on the second Sunday in November, not on the actual day of November 11. It's not a public holiday here, which I find unusual, considering how many British soldiers must have died in both World Wars. It's a federal holiday in both Canada and the United States, although in Canada it's only really for federal employees and such, it varies from province to province as to whether it's a provincial holiday.

A few random notes about poppies.

The poppy was chosen as a symbol after Canadian doctor and solider John McCrae wrote his poem In Flanders Fields, where he wrote about the many war casualties in Flanders where the poppies grow between the graves of the dead.

There are a few different types of poppies worn by people in remembrance of the wars.

This is the pin worn in Canada. It's sort of curved, and the leaves of the poppy are felted plastic.

This is the pin worn in the UK. It's flat, made of paper and also has a leaf attached. According to Wikipedia, it's the "Earl Haig" variety of poppy. Not quite sure what that means, comments welcome to clarify. (Edit: Thanks to a reader, I now know this is an English poppy. There is another variation for the Scottish poppy. In fact, having done a bit of looking, there are several different ones which you can see here on the Scottish poppy appeal page).

There was also talk on the news here in the UK about the white poppy. It's apparently been around since just after WWI, and along with commemorating the sacrifice of the armed forces during the wars, it's also supposed to be more of a pacifist's symbol, representing the idea of lasting peace. This year on the news they were saying that proponents of it claimed it was "more Christian", but having done a little more research into it, it's a pacifist symbol. I wonder if white poppy people said this, or if that was the media's own spin on things.

There's a bit of a debate between Legions and White Poppy proponents, with the Legions and veterans feeling that the white poppy undermines their contributions. The white poppy people say it's not meant like that. I don't mind either way, I just find it a bit amusing that they chose white, which is the colour of the opium poppy...


Colin Munro said...

The poppie incorrectly called a UK poppie is actually an English poppie, the Scottish poppie is again different, check it out.

ZeeBride said...

Thanks Colin, my new fact of the day. I'll correct my post to reflect that.