Wreaths and Poppies at Commemorative Events

It is a time-honoured custom to lay flowers on graves and memorials to commemorate the dead.

The suggested procedure for laying a wreath is to:

  • approach the memorial with the wreath in your right hand
  • halt, pause and then lay the wreath
  • straighten up, step back a pace, pause
  • for service personnel, salute and then pause once more
  • move away.

For a school ceremony, students could make a wreath from fresh or dried flowers. They could lay wreaths or fresh or artificial poppies at a memorial, honour board, flagpole or a designated place within the school grounds.

Rosemary, laurel & poppies

Rosemary and laurel especially have been associated with Anzac Day. In Ancient Rome, laurel was worn by emperors, while victorious generals and early Olympians were crowned with a laurel wreath. So it has come to symbolise bravery and victory. As a round wreath, laurel represents eternity, making it even more apt as a commemorative wreath.

Rosemary is an ancient symbol of remembrance. It has added significance for Australians on Anzac Day as it grows wild on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Sprigs of rosemary are traditionally worn on Anzac Day and sometimes Remembrance Day.

Poppies have long been integral to Remembrance Day and in recent years have become increasingly popular in Anzac Day wreaths.

See further: Commemoration – Red Poppies (Australian War Memorial website)