Today is Memorial Day. A fitting time to share some facts and traditions about the meaning behind the day. The following comes from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
A Very Brief History
Honoring ancestors by decorating and cleaning graves is an ancient practice. Recognizing the military dead specifically started in earnest after the Civil War, usually on the occasion of family gatherings and picnics in the summer. The holiday we know today began in 1971.
The Red Poppy
The origin of wearing a red poppy comes from a poem written over 100 years ago:
In November 1918, days before the official end of the war, an American professor named Moina Michael wrote her own poem, “We Shall Keep the Faith,” which was inspired by McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.” In her poem (also shown below), she mentioned wearing the “poppy red” to honor the dead, and with that, the tradition of adorning one’s clothing with a single red poppy in remembrance of those killed in the Great War was born. Moina herself came to be known—and honored—as “The Poppy Lady.”
Learn more about Decoration Day, aka Memorial Day here.