We do it once a year for a handful of days. It costs virtually nothing although, by rights, it should cost a whole lot more (and has done for many people). Fifa disapproves of it, which puts us on the side of the angels – but are we doing it right?
Wearing poppies. What’s the etiquette?
The first question is that pesky leaf. Up or down. Down looks droopy and mournful, which is appropriate, but it has some botanical authenticity (the flower is the uppermost part of the plant).
Some people are outraged that the poppy leaf isn’t pointing to 11am – the traditional moment of two-minutes of silence on Remembrance Day – November 11. Others say 2pm.
The “Scottish poppy” has no leaf which is even more botanically accurate and saves the Royal British Legion thousands that could be spent on veterans’ care.
Then there’s which side you should wear the poppy. Over your heart (left)is a rule that appears to have surfaced although there is a school of thought that says men should wear it on the left, and women on the right. This appears to emanate from practical considerations.
Right-handed women have their handbag straps over their left shoulder thus endangering the poppy. (The Queen wears it on the left but she’s not troubled by loose change / ball of tissue storage issues.)
One contributor told Mumsnet how he asked the veteran to pin it on the right hand side of her coat.
“He refused and gave me a stern telling-off because a poppy should be worn over your heart. I’ve never heard of that before: will anyone except this guy care that I swapped it over when I was out of sight? I looked for a pin badge poppy as a compromise but no one had them.”
And finally there’s poppy season. When should one start to wear the poppy. TV presenters have developed a convention of November 1 and there are other dates too – Bonfire Night, when the appeal is officially launched, the week in which the November 11 appears. There are certain schools of thought that suggest there is an appropriate time of day to wear poppies but that's just taking it too far. Because…
The answer is…
There are no rules. Everything you’ve heard has come from convention, rumour, habit and tall-tales.
The Royal British Legion has its priorities in perspective.
“It is a matter of personal choice whether an individual chooses to wear a poppy and also how they choose to wear it,’ a spokeswoman said.
"There is no right or wrong lapel, no right or wrong leaf position, no right or wrong time of day, no right or wrong start date. The best way wear a poppy, is to wear it with pride."
So there's absolutely nothing to stop you now…