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ANZAC Day – The use of flowers and foliage


ANZAC Day, observed on April 25th each year, commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli during World War I. It’s a day of remembrance for all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.


Dawn services are particularly poignant, echoing the landing time of the ANZAC troops at Gallipoli in 1915 as we honour the courage, sacrifice and camaraderie of those who served.


The Gallipoli campaign, which began on April 25th, 1915, was a significant event in both countries’ histories. The ANZAC troops, along with other Allied forces, landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in an attempt to open up the Dardanelles to the Allied navies. However, the campaign ultimately failed, resulting in heavy casualties on both sides.


ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The term originated from the acronym formed by the initial letters of Australia and New Zealand. However, over time, it has come to symbolize much more—a spirit of courage, endurance, and mateship forged on the battlefield.


The roles of flowers & foliage for ANZAC Day


The Flanders/ Red poppy has become a symbol of remembrance worldwide, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. Red poppies are often worn or placed alongside wreaths to honour the memory of soldiers who lost their lives in conflict. They represent the bloodshed and sacrifice of war, serving as a poignant reminder of the human cost of conflict.


Rosemary is an ancient symbol of fidelity and remembrance. The aromatic herb grows wild on the Gallipoli peninsula. Australians traditionally wear sprigs of rosemary on a coat lapel or with medals as a symbol of remembrance.


Australian native flowers hold significance during ANZAC Day ceremonies as they serve as a reminder of the beauty and resilience of the land that the ANZACs fought for.


Wreaths are laid at memorials and cenotaphs as a mark of respect and remembrance for the fallen. They are typically made of laurel leaves, symbolizing victory, honour, and remembrance. Laying a wreath is a solemn gesture that honours the sacrifice of those who served and acknowledges the enduring impact of war on communities. The wreath has significant meaning for the season. Its circular shape represents eternity, for it has no beginning and no end or a teardrop or “chaplet” to symbolise tears shed.


Florists generally use the following in their wreaths:


laurel – for glory and victory


rosemary – for remembrance


the colour purple – for mourning, spirituality and ceremony


red poppies – for the sacrifice of shed blood (usually one poppy for each of the armed services: navy, army, air force)



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