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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
When's the right time to start wearing a poppy?
The Magazine answers...

Worker at poppy factory
On sale for two weeks
The annual poppy appeal has just been launched, but the first flowers were sighted on lapels weeks ago. When is the right time to pin one on?

Like the first twinkle of Christmas lights, it seems the race to sport a poppy to mark Remembrance Day begins earlier every year.

The small paper flower is worn to honour the men and women who risk their lives in service for the country in return for a donation to the Royal British Legion.

The annual poppy appeal is launched on Thursday, with poppies available from this Saturday until Sunday 12 November.

Yet Labour's Jim Devine, the first MP to sport one of the paper flowers in the House of Commons, wore his in mid-October (prompting one sketch writer to wonder whether he had simply left it on his jacket since last November, and a flurry of acidic letters to the Times).

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Even earlier was Kent taxi driver, Robert Holland, who in September was banned by his local council from displaying a car poppy on his cab in case it distracted from his registration plates.

''I have supported the poppy appeal since I was a child and it is something I am proud to support all year, by keeping the flower on my vehicle," Mr Holland told his local paper.


Although poppies will be available from Saturday, traditionalists believe that, like bringing the Christmas decorations down before Twelfth Night, the poppy-wearing period runs from All Souls' Day on 2 November until Remembrance Sunday itself.

Tony Blair wearing his poppy
Many public figures support the appeal
The British Legion itself says people are welcome to wear a poppy at any time, and those raising funds for the organisation often sport one year-round.

But it also observes what is known as "Remembrancetide", the period from the appeal's launch until Remembrance Sunday (12 November this year, as it is always the second Sunday in November).

"The poppy is, at its core, a voluntary symbol of support," a spokeswoman says.

Among the more high-profile supporters of the appeal are the newsreaders on the major channels, most - if not all - of whom pin a poppy to a lapel.

At the BBC, there is no policy on poppy-wearing, it is a personal decision. A spokeswoman says that most do wear one, generally from 31 October until 13 November.

Reuse, recycle?

So what of the early adopters - where might they have got a poppy from?

The Royal British Legion has already begun to distribute poppies, pins and collection boxes to ensure they are in place for Saturday.

"It's not like Santa Claus, we can't be everywhere at once overnight," says a spokeswoman. "But I wouldn't dare to presume that anyone's kept theirs since last year."

Add your comments on this story, using the form below.

My remembrance day is the 4 May, the day the ship I was serving on was hit by an excocet missile in 1982. I wear my poppy then as well as the lead-up to 11 Nov. Every service man and women will have their own rememberance day or anniversary where they remember the mates who are no longer with us.
Mark Hiscutt, Weymouth, UK

I reuse my poppy every year - that way I don't need to get a new poppy when I make my donation reducing waste while maximising funds for The Royal British Legion.
Jim, Dundee

The first of November is the ideal time to buy and wear your poppy. Any earlier and it looks pretentious. Also the poppy tend to get tatty too quickly.
Christopher Wallace, London

I am very happy to donate as much as I can to the poppy appeal and regard it as one of the worthiest charitable causes that there is. But I never wear a poppy and I never will because I profoundly dislike displaying the fact that I have given to charity; for me it is a quiet and private decision and personally I wish the same were true for everybody else.
Mikko Takala, Drumnadrochit, Scotland

One November when I was working in Finland, I kept my poppy on my jacket. Several Finns asked me what it was as they don't wear them over there. I was happy to explain. It's extremely common for most presenters and guests on British TV to wear a poppy (I wonder if the floor manager checks everyone wears one before going on air). But I noticed on BBC World, the presenters don't wear poppies. Surely they should keep them on, as I don't expect British politicians to remove theirs when talking to foreign colleagues.
Simon, Manchester

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