With April well under way, by this time next week Anzac Day will have been and gone. With various services taking place all over the country and around the world, many Aussies will choose to attend one and may even wish to take along a floral tribute.
I guess I had assumed that everyone knew what a traditional Anzac Wreath looked like, but perhaps they don’t….. or perhaps like basically everything else in the world today, people are choosing to express themselves and do it their own way.
Still, when my husband returned from work a couple of days ago trying to clarify the details of a traditional arrangement, I was surprised. His employer, tasked him with making the wreaths for the organisation. Sure, he has worked in and around florists much of his adult life, but he isn’t a trained florist. But he is a bit of a stickler for tradition, so he was pretty set on getting it right. The organisation on the other hand had more liberal ideas of what the wreath might look like.
Did you know that an Anzac Day wreath is usually teardrop shaped?
A traditional laurel wreath is made in the shape of a teardrop with the base entirely covered with flat laurel leaves. I have often seen these wreaths covered with alternative foliages such as camellia leaves or little gem magnolia. Laurel is symbolic as it has been used since ancient Roman times to crown victors and the brave as a mark of honour. The chaplet usually has a cluster of three red poppies in the bottom centre. Red poppies are a significant symbol of remembrance, always used for Remebrance day on November 11th, but have taken pride of place on Anzac Day wreaths. According to soldiers’ folklore, the poppy is said to have absorbed the blood of the fallen from the ground to achieve it’s vivid colour. Poppies are also one of the first flowers to bloom in the battlefields of the First World War in Belgium and the North of France.
The Lest We Forget ribbon should be placed high in the left corner, across the wreath, and finishing low in the right hand side to symbolise the sun rising in the East and setting in the west.
Lastly, rosemary is often added to the wreath as another symbol of remembrance.
What I could see as my husband continued to relay the conversation to me, was that whilst the traditional laurel wreath is specific and symbolic, in general, people are basically happy with anything beautiful. It was only our industry knowledge and the assumption that they wanted a ‘traditional arrangement’ that was really complicating things.
Take a moment to look around if you attend a service this Anzac Day- through the sea of arrangements do you notice the laurel and the vivid red poppies, or do you see brightly coloured rounded floral wreath arrangements. Round wreath arrangements are a traditional funereal arrangement but there is certainly nothing wrong with choosing to design your own special tribute thiscAnzac Day.
What do you think? How important are traditions to you?
feature image via SBS