Poppies for Remembrance Day – What do Different Colour Poppies Mean?

(updated November 2021)
If you follow me on social media you might have seen that I have shared art and memorials depicting poppies for Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday in the past.

Whilst most poppy tributes are red, there are several other colours worn and depicted as a sign of remembrance; but how many different poppies are there and what do all the colours mean?

Today I will share with you more art and memorials depicting remembrance, tell you what other poppies are available, and some new ways to commemorate the Remembrance Days in 2020/21.

crocheted postobx topper featuring a circle or red poppies and a pile of red poppies in the centre for remembrance day
Crochet postbox topper by Margaret Colman

What is Remembrance Sunday?

Remembrance Day is commemorated on 11th November each year to mark the end of the First World War in 1918. At 11am a two-minute silence is held throughout the nation to remember those who died in not only World War One but all wars since.  It is also known as Armistice Day.

Remembrance Sunday is the nearest Sunday to the 11th November and again marked at 11am showing respect to the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.  There are usually many parades and church services all over the country, a time when everyone comes together to reflect on the past and remember those lost.

In 2021, things may still be a bit different due to the pandemic, but it looks like the march past the cenotaph, and a short Remembrance service in London will still be happening this year. Last year there were no poppy sellers in town centres, and the march and many parades and services were cancelled.

The Royal British Legion came up with many other ways to support them during the pandemic of 2020, from a virtual field of remembrance, downloadable poppies to colour in and display in your windows at home and work, and an online shop and donate.

3 metal poppies rising out from ferns in a scultpure garden
Red poppy sculptures made by upcycling vinyl records at The Sculpture Park, Churt. Artist Kenny Roach

How many different colour poppies are there and what do they all mean?

There are six different poppies that I know of currently being worn and sold in the UK. They all have slightly different meanings but all of them are worn for remembrance of those passed.

The red poppy is something most of us have grown up with knowing the meaning of from a very young age. In more recent times we have been introduced to several other colour/types of poppies: purple, white, black and ghadi.

The red poppy is worn generally from the 31st October through to 11th November as a mark of respect and remembrance to those who fought and lost their lives in World War One and all wars since. It was introduced in 1921 and chosen because of the many wild poppies that grew in Flanders Fields. Red poppies and red poppy accessories are now sold in the UK by the Royal British Legion.

As part of their commitment to the environment, all parts of the poppies can be recycled and there will be recycling bins in Sainsburys after Remembrance Sunday. You can also chose to buy reusable items such as enamel badges and rubber wristbands instead.

If you want to support the British Armed Forces please do not buy them from Ebay or unauthorised online sellers. Only use the official British Legion shop and sellers.

red poppy on a black background with the text "remembrance day. What do the different colour poppies mean? in red white and purple text. Tea and Cake for the Soul in red text at the bottom.
original photo by aakash gupta from Pexels

The Scottish Poppy is red but has four petals and no leaf. They were introduced in 1926 because poppies often sold out in England.  Poppies are made in Lady Haig Poppy Factory and are available to buy online.

The white poppy is worn as a sign of peace. It was adopted in 1934 by the Peace Pledge Union after being designed by The Co-operative Women’s Guild a year earlier. Like the red poppy, it is worn to commemorate those who suffered in war but as a commitment to ongoing peace rather than war.

The purple poppy was replaced by a purple paw badge in 2015 to commemorate the millions of animals who lost their lives and suffered in combat. As it is made from enamel it is requested that it is worn all year round not just on Remembrance Day.  The purple poppy is still featured in many memorials and works of commemorative art. The badge is available to buy from Animal Aid.

The black poppy, also known as the black poppy rose, is to commemorate those who served from the African, Black, Pacific Islands, and Caribean communities. Black poppies and wreaths can be bought from Black Poppy Rose.

The khadi poppy was sold in 2018 marking the 100th year anniversary of the end of the First World War. It was sold to commemorate those who fought for Britain from the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities of India. It was red but made from cloth similar to the clothing worn by Ghandi.

Dark stormy sky with sun breaking through the clouds over the epitaph at Southsea
The Epitaph at Southsea, Portsmouth

So whatever colour poppy you wear, or however you remember those passed, we are all remembering those who served or who lost their lives during World War One and all battles since.

If you would like to see more of the works of art and memorials that I’ve shared for Remembrance Sunday, please head over to my Facebook or Instagram pages. Or have a look at my other memorial posts from previous years (links below).

13 thoughts on “Poppies for Remembrance Day – What do Different Colour Poppies Mean?

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