Things to do in Tenerife in December 2014

What to Expect

Although December is one of the cooler months of the year it is still warmer than most other destinations in Europe making it a popular destination for British holidaymakers wanting to escape the winter gloom back home. The promise of year round sunshine is tantalisingly good and whilst sun cannot be guaranteed EVERY day, average temperatures for the south of the island are approximately 22°C during the day and 17°C at night.

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At this time of year the difference between north and south is getting more noticeable and daytime temperatures there can average 16°C with lows being a chilly (but not by comparison with northern Europe) 8°C.  It is therefore still possible to spend some time on the beach wherever you choose to go. Tenerife in winter attracts a very different clientele from summer. These in the main are older and increasingly more discerning in their tastes.

Celebrations in December

Despite the main Navidad (Christmas) celebration not being until January there is plenty of Christmas cheer around with sparkling lights and beautiful decorations making the streets come alive.  Like the rest of Europe New Year’s Eve is a spectacular evening with cava, grapes and fireworks not only in the resorts but every outlying village.

Christmas and New Year in ….

Arona and Adeje – always put on a good show, with concerts, markets and to my mind the best end of year party on the island when Los Cristianos vies with Las Americas to outdo each other with the biggest and best fireworks displays.

Santa Cruz – If you are heading for the capital then the big event is the free Christmas Day concert by the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra at the port.

Most  towns will have Christmas programmes planned and the tourist offices and cultural centres are best places to find full details.

December Highlights – The Best Music and Theatre

Entertainment in Tenerife is not just limited to bars, tribute acts and karaoke, there are plenty of live shows to suit all tastes.  Below is a tiny selection of what for me are the highlights showing around the island this month. Check out THIS PAGE for a list of theatres as well as links to the latest programmes.

The Moscow Ballet ‘Swan Lake’ (3rd at 21.00 and 4th December at 18.00 and 21.30, Teatro Leal, Tickets from €25)

At Christmas time there is nothing better than a bit of Gospel to get the toes tapping and the hands clapping.

Mississippi Gospel Chorale “Oh Happy Day Tour” is a selection of both traditional and contemporary tracks of black American music and is especially intended to be performed before a European audience. (7th / 8th December, Teatro Leal, 20.00 Tickets from €12).

Gospel Festival IX Canary Islands – Arona, The Latonius with D Star Choir. (6th December, Auditorio Infanta Leonor,  21:00 pm Tickets €12)

The Georgia Mass Choir – Gospel Tribute to Whitney Houston The magic began in Macon, Georgia, in 1983 and now the Choir are back in Tenerife. (14th December, Auditorio de Tenerife Santa Cruz, 20.00 Tickets €22)

Ballets de Tenerife Christmas Gala (12th December, Auditorio Infanta Leonor, 20:30 Tickets €10)

The musical ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ A new and updated review of the celebrated Andrew Lloyd Webber musical (26th to 30th December, Auditorio de Tenerife in Santa Cruz, various times, Tickets from 15 to 25 Euros)

Keroxen Festival with music, dance, visual arts performances (Until 5th December at El Tanque Espacio Cultural Tickets from http://keroxen.com/)

Farra World Festival (7th December, Siam Park starting at 15.00 until late. Tickets from €55 from Website) See the teaser video below for what to expect.

International Piano Festival music lovers may enjoy a repertoire that ranges from widely popular to some lesser known pieces. (to 6th February 2015, Castillo San Felipe, Puerto de la Cruz )

Other Events in December

International Storytelling Festival, (to 7th December – Los Silos). This year is the 13th edition with the participation of dozens of guest narrators and a huge program of related literature and readings, art and creative activities. Programme

PIT (Children and Youth Park Tenerife) (19 December to 5 January, Recinto Ferial Santa Cruz) undoubtedly one of the most anticipated events for children in Tenerife every Christmas. A huge exhibition dedicated to fun activities designed especially for the children and young people. Info HERE

Arona Folkfest - Traditional Canarian music, dance and Canarian Food (to 27th March 2015 – Every Thursday at the Harbour, Los Cristianos – 8.30pm, Every Friday at CC City Centre, Las Americas – 8.30pm and 2nd Saturday of each month Las Galletas – 11.00am)

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Degusta.Me (Try Me) (Second Saturday each month Plaza España Adeje – from 6.00pm) There will also be an excellent selection of food and wines on offer accompanied by live music.

VIII Tapas Route ‘Mandate una tapa’ (to 15th December in El Medano, Los Abrigos, San Isidro, Charco del Pino and Granadilla)

Tenerife – Attractions

Tenerife offers a wealth of attractions follow the LINK to get just a few ideas.

Tenerife – Tours

Guided tours both free and private as well as numerous excursions are available throughout the year. For a few ideas follow the link to Tenerife Tours and Days Out

Tenerife – Sporting Activities

Year round temperatures averaging 22 degrees combined with a low level of rainfall provide an ideal climate for outdoor ventures. Whether on land, at sea or in the skies, Tenerife provides outdoor adventure for all types of travellers. Check them out HERE

Tenerife – Markets

Everyone loves a market and the island is home to a wealth of covered, outdoor and street markets. Many specialise in a particular type of goods while others selling the same product move from site to site. Most open early in the morning and close early afternoon. Follow this link for a list of Tenerife Markets

Tenerife – Museums

The museums of Tenerife are accessible to all sections of the community regardless of limited mobility or communication. Follow the link to find a comprehensive list of Tenerife – Museums

For weather & news updates around south Tenerife check Queenies Daily Snippets
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Updating, Tweaking and Generally Faffing Around.

As a couple of people have already noticed, I have been updating the pages that sit just below the header at the top of this blog.  I decided rather than bore everyone with my holiday snaps, I would give them a section of their own so anyone interested could brows and they wouldn’t get in the way for anyone who just wanted to read.  You will find these under the Gallery heading.  I only have a few places listed at the moment, but a couple are broken into sub-sections. I am also adding to this as I tidy up my laptop and delete or archive old holiday snaps.

I have also added and expanded the Just Tenerife page as I am asked on a daily basis questions about the island, so for me this was an easy way to guide people with queries to specific links.

Recipes and Restaurant Reviews are updated usually when I remember but every once in a while I have a twinge of conscience and do a mass update.  They do now though have nice header pictures :)

Do have a nosey around, if you feel anything needs adding your suggestions are always welcome.

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The Ancient Ruins of Ephesus – Dirty Little Secrets Revealed!

We had two nights at the popular seaside resort of Kusadasi. Unfortunately, Kate spent one day in the hotel nursing a migraine so Jim and I took the opportunity to visit the ancient ruins of Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary.

Now this is a prime example of one of those blogs that I mentioned originally, where I just knew that no words could describe what we experienced. I will give it a go but you really need to visit yourself and walk the streets and touch the carved stones that cross your path.

Whilst Turkey has a wealth of historical sites, the ruins of Ephesus are by far the most visited. As well as the coach loads of tourists from all over the world like us, often cruise ships from the nearby port of Kusadasi visit, so the site can be very crowded.  Because of this, we set off early, which was a good thing as it was another hot day, (I will never look at a weather forecast again – the ones for this holiday all predicted rain and thunderstorms.)

We were fortunate that our Tour Director, Aykut, was very knowledgeable and he could also spin a good yarn.  I think Ephesus is more impressive when you learn the history and life of the people who used to live there. So, if you are travelling alone I would suggest a guided tour as so many small details could be missed as you walk through this wonderful city.

Ephesus is probably best known for being the site of the Temple of Artemis, the well preserved amphitheatre, the Celsus Library and its connection to St John and the Virgin Mary. At its prime, it was the second largest Roman city in the world. Rome being the first.

We spent over 3 hours starting at the top entrance and walking down hill, which was the best way to do it, enabled us to miss most of the push and crush.

Along the long cobbled main street, The Arcadian Way are temples and public buildings, houses where people lived and the local shops. This is said to be the first street to have lights and holes in the paving were pointed out where the streetlights were placed on an evening. It was obvious that this was the rich part of town as it held the senate and many of the buildings were made from marble. Where the street meets the Marble Way at the Hercules Arch there are steps to prevent the traffic from the lower city entering the upper city – keeping the riff raff out.

From the archway, the Marble Way ran down to the Celsus Library, probably one of the most photographed places in the world.  It was built as a tomb for Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, a governor of the Roman Province of Asia and became the third largest library in the ancient world (the Library of Alexandria being the largest). Across the road from the library is the brothel and a tunnel was found when the site was excavated in 1970, linking the two. Rumour has it that when a man told his wife he was going to the library, that was true, but the bit he didn´t add was he was also going to take a short detour through the tunnel!  For the new guy in town there were even signs leading the way to the brothel, like the footprint, heart and outline of a coin showing where if the price was right you would be welcomed at ‘the house of pleasure’. Near the brothel is the baths and the public toilets, with rows of toilet seats cut into the marble benches where men used to gather and chat

We finally arrived at the amazing amphitheatre that used to seat 25,000 people. It is easy to imagine this alive and the voices of the crowd cheering on their warriors, as it was we raised our voices in what turned out to be a pretty acceptable rendition of Waltzing Matilda!

I found it interesting that several symbols have withstood the test of time, I already had a vague recollection of previously hearing about the Nike ‘Swoosh’ from Nike the Goddess of Victory and the modern day medical sign from Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicinal arts in mythology.  What I had never heard of though was how each letter of IXEYZ (Fish) and the ‘Jesus Fish’ can be traced in the circle and this was a sign or early code language, used by Christians to let others know their beliefs.

We finally left Ephesus and my only comment would be if you want to take drinks with you (and you really should)  buy them before the entrance as once you go through the turnstiles they are more than double the price.

After boarding the coach, we headed a short distance along the road for what is believed by many to be the final resting place of the Virgin Mary, which was our next stop.

 

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Rosso Sul Mare – La Caleta

Our friends Charles and Valda made their annual November trip to the island and as usual, we looked for somewhere ‘a bit special’ to take them for a meal.  This year we chose the Rosso Sul Mare. It probably has one of the best settings next to the sea in the old fishing village of La Caleta.  On a summer evening, the sunsets can be exceptional however, we are now in winter and when I phoned to reserve a table I asked to sit inside.

We first went to this Italian restaurant when it opened a few years back and couldn’t fault anything so we hoped that this visit would be the same. It is a fashionable, elegantly decorated and smart place – but so are prices. On entering, we could see nothing had changed.

On giving our name a waiter told us to wait by the bar and someone would collect us. This seemed reasonable, as the restaurant was busy with several large and rowdy groups of diners. However, we waited over 10 minutes before a waiter came and pointed to a table that we were standing next to. After taking our seats and being handed the menus all the waiters seemed to disappear, eventually one approached to take our drinks order but only because I signalled him. These came in dribs and drabs, our water arrived first, a few minutes later the beer came and it was only after asking a second time did we receive the Canarian wine. The waiters were all busying themselves about, but appeared more interested in singing happy birthday to one young woman, and were rather indifferent to the rest of the diners.

We placed our orders, two gamari in salsa rosa (prawn cocktails for want of a better description with fruit salad), a fish soup and the Carpaccio. Starters are priced between €7- €15 except for the lobster which is €30. We then went on to order fillet steak, sea bass, barbequed lamb chops and veal scaloppini.  These were priced at €15/16 and all had some rather nice sounding sauce to accompany them.  It was purely by chance when I asked what vegetables came with my steak that we learnt vegetables are not provided with ANY meals. Now whilst it is no big deal to order these separately, there is no mention of this that we could see on the menu and until I asked, the waiter was not forthcoming with the information. We proceeded to order the mixed vegetables, spinach and the roast potatoes (the only potato they serve).  It was at this point, I was starting to think pretty poor show.

We went back to munching the bread, which lacked flavour (disappointing because good Italian bread takes some beating). We then resorted to the bread sticks and continued the waiting game.  We got excited when a waiter came to set the cutlery but when I was given a soupspoon to eat my prawns; it was obvious that the staff were not the least bit interested in service. After nearly an hour our starters eventually arrived, the waiter wasn´t sure who ordered what (and by this time, we had almost forgotten too). He then more or less threw the food onto the table as you can see from how the soup has sloshed around the bowl.

To be honest I thought the whole meal was going to be a disaster, but I was wrong, and whoosh fireworks started to go off having tasted our first mouthful.  From then on, each dish that arrived was excellent; of course, it needed to be because they really aren’t that cheap.

When predicting the enjoyment of the evening I knew the company would be excellent, the setting superb however, what I didn´t allow for was that the good food would be spoilt by the poor level of service.  So the score rating while high was IMO not good enough to warrant another visit, especially as the bill for 4 people including a bottle of Canarian wine at €26 was €176 add to that IGIC at 5%, which is not included, and a tip. :-(

For daily weather updates in South Tenerife check out Queenie’s blog
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Troy – Yes, It Does Exist but where the heck is it?

I’d always thought Troy of Homer’s Iliad, Helen, the Trojan Horse and Brad Pitt fame was in Greece, I didn’t know that it was in Turkey. Fortunately I wasn´t alone and several in our tour group didn´t know it is in Turkey either. That was a bit of a relief as most appeared to be highly intelligent (unlike the person who was looking for a Vietnam Vet in Gallipoli!) and I didn´t want to appear to be the only dumb cluck.

This was the first visit where we used our ‘Whispers’ (walkie talkies) so even when wandering off we could receive information.  It was a nice visit but didn´t take too long, as there aren’t a lot of archaeological “wow” moments as Troy lacks many of the grandiose columns and buildings of ruins like Ephesus and is mostly the remains of stone walls.

It’s not easy to make sense of because it is made up of cities on top of cities, so the levels start at the bottom and work their way to the top.  Often a city was destroyed and a new city would be built in the same place. What you end up with is the first city Troy I, then subsequent cities that are numbered up to Troy IX.  I found it quite confusing even trying to follow the map makes my head spin.

Troy (5)

Was it worth the visit, IMO it was, a place so famous well you just have to go to say  ‘I have been there!’ even if there is not that much around and the giant wooden horse out the front – a replica of course, is good for the tourist photo-shoots.

Troy (13)

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A must see – Las Tablas de San Andrés, Icod de los Vinos

Las Tablas de San Andrés is a crazy tradition that is celebrated every year on 29th November in the town of Icod de los Vinos, in the north of Tenerife.  Whilst it leads up to the celebration of when the bodegas open their doors for visitors to sample the new wines of the region, by comparison this is quite a staid event even though at the bodegas vast quantities of vino can be involved.

In essence, the “tablas” is a celebration of the customs of ordinary folk in years gone by which has been adapted to present day and involves sliding down the town streets on your bum and hoping you reach the end still in one piece.

The name San Andres might sounds religious but the celebration itself has nothing to do with the church or religion and is just an easy way to remember when it takes place.

To understand the origins of the “tablas” it helps if you know that the terrain of the municipality like many on the island ranges from high up in the mountains all the way down to sea level and Icod is typical. It is also worth bearing in mind that shortly after the Conquest, the first vines were planted on Tenerife in 1497 and wine production commenced.

Tenerife became the largest producer of quality wines in the Canary Islands and there was a huge demand in Europe. To meet this demand, wine makers would take wood from the high lands to the workshops by the sea where casks could be made. They also carried empty casks from the cellars for cleaning in the sea, as salt water apparently removes acids from the inside of the barrel. In the absence of adequate transport, the wood travelled down the steep streets either by rolling or fastened to a large plank. To avoid accidents branches were used to steer the precarious route and as brakes.

With this chaotic picture in mind, it is easy to see how many of those involved in accompanying the barrels found it amusing and exciting. And so the tradition was born….

Despite the passage of time and improvements in transport, the ritual is always repeated on the same date and just gets crazier with each year that passes.  Everyone joins in.  They start them early in the north and little kids make their first intrepid attempt as they slide carefully with mum and dad close to hand in case of an accident. The pre-teens move to the steeper streets getting braver as they get older until you are finally left watching the teenage boys as they career faster and faster down the twisting streets until they end up, hopefully in a pile of tyres and with no bones broken or macho pride bruised.

All the excitement makes you hungry so it is fortunate that the local bars have set up stalls and braziers selling roast chestnuts.  For me a reminder that winter has arrived and Christmas is just around the corner. So if you are on the island, make sure you add the event to your diary as this unique tradition should not be missed.

Roasted-Chestnuts

Images courtesy of Ayuntamiento de Icod de los Vinos
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Tips on Turkish Coffee

I have said on several occasions how I love coffee and my over indulgence has on the odd occasion brought on a caffeine headache. It was therefore a surprise that I hated Turkish coffee. I don’t understand how anyone can drink a cup of mud like substance and not throw up. The giveaway was when the taste was describes as “interesting” – I should have realised then that I was not missing a lot.

Nevertheless I thought I would give the recipe as explained by our Tour Guide, Aykut, on our recent Turkish road trip in case anyone braver than me is tempted.

Firstly you must understand that in Turkey coffee is a big thing.  The question is not do you want a coffee, but rather how do you have your Turkish coffee. By ‘how’, your host is asking about the amount of sugar you would like and to answer, you say “sade” – no sugar; “az seker” a little sugar; or “sekerli” very sweet. It is then the responsibility of the person making the coffee, usually the youngest girl of the house (I will expand on this when I get around to arranged marriages) to prepare it according to everyone’s individual preferences.

Making Turkish coffee requires no special skills but there is a ritual to follow and it cannot be rushed especially if each person’s preference is different as cups are made individually and not just in a large pot.

According to Aykut, the Turks buy tiny quantities of coffee, about 250g at a time, to ensure it is always fresh. It is ground extra fine and used as needed rather than storing in a jar. You also need quality water and a metal spoon for stirring, together with a special wide bottom pot, usually made of copper with a long wooden handle called an Ibrik. Coffee is always served in cups the size of an espresso cup, however even the beautifully decorated cups were not enough to tempt me to try a second time.

   

Turkish coffee is famed for the way it is made.

  • Always use cold, filtered water. To measure the amount of water for each cup, use the coffee cup you are serving the coffee in, rather than a standard measuring cup.
  • For each cup of coffee, use a heaping tablespoon of ground coffee.  Do not stir it yet. Just let the coffee “float” on the surface of the water because if you stir it now you might cause it to clump together. Put the pot on the stove to heat.
  • Add sugar to taste. Still Do Not Stir – let the water warm a little. Turn the heat to medium-high for about 3-4 minutes.
  • When the coffee starts to sink into the water and the water is warm enough to dissolve the sugar, stir it several times this encourages foam to build up.
  •  As the coffee warms and the bubbles form on the surface, turn down the heat. This dark foam is important. It is customary to serve Turkish coffee with foam on top.
  •  Using a teaspoon, transfer some of the foam into each coffee cup.
  •  Return the pot to the heat, when hot, pour half the liquid into the cups over the foam.
  •  Return coffee pot to stove again for an additional 15-20 seconds and pour the rest of the liquid into the cups, filling them to the rim.
  •  It is extremely important never take your eye off the process. Do not let the temperature get hot enough to start boiling or the coffee will taste bitter.
  • Keep it at the “foaming” stage as long as you can. The more froth, the better it will taste.

Serving and Drinking Turkish Coffee

  • Turkish coffee must always be served with foam on top. Do not stir after pouring into cups or the foam will collapse.
  • Wait about half a minute or so to let the grinds settle to the bottom of your cup, then drink sip by sip.
  • Turkish coffee is always served with a glass of water. Drink this first to cleanse your palate.
  • Cream or milk is never added to Turkish coffee.
  • If you want to go authentic or want to tone down the strength and intensity of the brew, you can add spices such as cardamom or anise.
  • Most people like to serve coffee with a small sweet like Turkish delight or a chocolate.
  • When it comes to serving, it is important to start with the eldest guest in the room. It is a sign of respect to acknowledge their age and considered disrespectful not to do so.
  • Since Turkish coffee is much denser than filtered coffee, it is not customary to drink more than one cup.
  • In some regions, your fortune can be told by the placement of the coffee grinds left in the cup!

Images taken from various sources on internet
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Airport – Reduced Mobility Assistance

Having been asked for this information today and on several occasions in the past, I thought it a good idea to publish the information on here so that I know exactly what to tell people when next they ask as ordinarily I am rooting around trying to think!

“Sin Barreras”

Capture

This information is taken from a leaflet “Sin Barreras” available in Spanish and English at all Spanish airports.

It is an overview of what is available and how to obtain assistance. The leaflet can be found at Tenerife Sur Reina Sofia airport by the “Sin Barreras” station near the departure gate number 1. I don’t know about the North airport but I imagine something similar.

Different disabilities by code: -

WCHC entirely immobile and not self-sufficient. Must be accompanied to their seats and need complete personal assistance.

WCHR help needed getting from the aircraft to the terminal. They can board and move around the aircraft on their own.

WCHS help needed getting from the aircraft to the terminal and also for boarding. Are self sufficient on the aircraft.

DEAF Deaf passengers

BLND Passengers with visual disabilities

How to get help: -

REQUEST IT
Request at least 48 hours before flight i.e. when booking flight. If not requested far enough in advance the quality of the service cannot be guaranteed. Available by phoning 902 404 704 (within Spain) or by www.aena.es

GO TO THE MEETING POINT
At a prearranged time, go to the meeting point (it is a tall black sign displaying the disability avatars). Use the intercom and wait. You will be collected from the meeting point.

CHECK IN AND BOARDING
You will be assisted and accompanied during check-in and security checkpoints until in your seat on the plane. You will be helped with luggage and personal needs.

ARRIVAL AT DESTINATION
You will be helped to deplane and retrieve luggage. You will be accompanied to the airport meeting point (within Spain).

COMPLETION OF SERVICE
If requested you are asked to evaluate the service given. Any complaints contact sinbarreras@aena.es

For further information there is a Spanish phone number to contact 902404704.

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Home at Last

He’s home at last, a mother’s son, a fine young man, his duty done,
Yet not for him the fond embrace, a loving kiss, a smiling face
Or cries of joy to laugh and cheer the safe return of one so dear,
It is his lot to show the world a soldiers fate as flags unfurl
And Standards lower in salutation, symbols of a grateful nation.

Sombre now, the drum beats low, as he is carried, gentle, so
As if not to disturb his rest, by comrades, three and three abreast
Who now, as quiet orders sound, they, one by one then move around
To place him in the carriage decked with flowers in calm and hushed respect,
Preparing for the sad, slow ride through silent crowds who wait outside.

So the warrior now returns to native soil and rightly earns
The great respect to one so young, though sadness stills the waiting throng,
While flowers strew the path he takes, as the carriage slowly makes
A final turning to allow the veterans standing there to show
The soldiers pride, a silent, mute, proud and respectful last salute.

Yet, while onlookers stand and see the simple, moving ceremony,
There is a home, a place somewhere, where sits a waiting, vacant chair,
And one great yawning empty space in someone’s heart, no last embrace
To bid a final, fond farewell to one who will forever dwell
In love and cherished memory, a Husband, Son, eternally.

And we who see should not forget that in this soldier’s final debt
And sacrifice for duty’s sake, it is the loved ones who must take
The hurt, to bear as best they can, and face a future lesser than
The one they dreamed in bygone years, now to regard with bitter tears,
Reflecting, as time intervenes, on thoughts of how it might have been.

But in their grief there’s quiet pride that loved ones bravely fought and died
Believing in a worthy goal which helps give solace, and consoles
By knowing that the loss they bear is shared by all our peoples where
In gratitude, their names will be forever honoured, guaranteed
To be remembered and enshrined, beyond the shifting sands of time.

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A poem by Tony Church who joined the Army Apprentices in Arborfield in 1955 serving a three year apprenticeship, being transferred into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers to serve a further nine years with the Colours and three in the Reserve.

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Remembrance Day and the Poppy

On a recent visit to the UK, we took a trip to the Tower of London to see the 888,246 ceramic poppies planted in the Tower’s moat, each poppy representing a British military fatality during the war. This made me wonder how the poppy became the international symbol of remembrance for the fallen of World War I.

It began on Saturday morning, 9th November 1918, two days before the Armistice was declared. Moina Michael was on duty at the YMCA headquarters in New York. This was a place where servicemen would gather with friends and family to say their goodbyes before they went on overseas duty. During the morning, a young soldier left a copy of the “Ladies Home Journal” on Moina’s desk. As Moina browsed through the magazine, she came across a poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae. The words and images of beautiful red poppies among the death and destruction of the Western Front deeply moved her and she made a pledge to wear a red poppy as an emblem for keeping the faith with those who died.

During the day, some men attending a conference at the HQ asked Moina to accept $10 in appreciation of her effort to brighten the place with flowers at her own expense. She was touched, showed them the poem and said she would buy twenty-five red poppies with the money. The delegates took the poem back into the Conference. Moina found the small artificial red silk poppies in a department store and when she returned to the YMCA she gave the poppies to the delegates and kept one for herself.  According to Moina, since this group had given her the money with which to buy them, she considered that she had made her first sale of the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy on 9th November 1918.

Moina Michael was determined to put all her energy towards getting the Poppy adopted as a national memorial symbol in the United States and began a tireless campaign at her own expense, starting with a letter to her congressional representative in which she asked him to put the idea to the War Department, which he did. She wanted to act quickly so that this new emblem might be ready for the signing of the peace treaty at Versailles in June 1919.

In March 1919, Moina moved back to her home state of Georgia.  She taught a class of disabled servicemen and learnt first-hand about their needs. She realised that while the memory of those who died needed to be honoured there were thousands of ex-servicemen who were returning home with mental and physical needs that also needed support. This gave her the impetus to widen the scope of the Memorial Poppy idea to assist all servicemen who needed help for themselves and their families.

By 1920, Moina Michael was beginning to lose hope that the Memorial Poppy idea would ever come to fruition. However, in August 1920 she learned that the Georgia Department of the American Legion was to meet in Atlanta. Before the convention, she approached the delegates and subsequently the Legion adopted the Memorial Poppy and agreed to have their members wear a red poppy on 11th November. A month later, the National American Legion agreed on the use of the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy as the United States’ national emblem of Remembrance.

A french woman Anna Guérin attended the National American Legion’s convention and was inspired by Moina’s idea. When she returned to France, Anna got a team of French women to make artificial poppies, her intention was that these could be sold and the proceeds could be used to help fund the restoration of the war-torn regions of France. Anna was determined to introduce the idea of the memorial poppy to the nations that had been Allied with France during the First World War.

In 1921, Anna Guérin first introduced the British Legion in London to the Memorial Poppy and the first British Poppy Day Appeal was launched that year, in the run up to 11th November 1921.  Since that time, the red poppy has been sold each year by The British Legion from mid October to raise funds in support of the organisation’s charitable work.

In 1922, the Poppy Factory was established in the Old Kent Road, London. In 1933, the demand for poppies was such that the Poppy Factory had to move to larger premises in Surrey. The demand for poppies continued to grow each year and today the Poppy Factory is producing nearly 40 million poppies for wreaths, sprays and buttonholes.

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