By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Remembrance Day — the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Also known as Poppy day, Armistice Day or Veterans’ Day, it’s a day to remember the fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.
I like the tradition we have in Canada of wearing a poppy on our lapel as an emblem signifying we will not forget the people who have put service before self to give us a better life.
The red flowered Corn poppy is the poppy of wartime remembrance. It is actually a common weed found throughout Europe, and specifically in regions of Belgium and France, also known as Flanders Fields.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.
– John McCrae
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps doctor.
First published in Punch magazine on December 8, 1915.
Because poppies are the flower of the day, I thought I’d offer a home spa recipe using this plant. Poppy flowers and seeds have a long and strong tradition of being associated with sleep. As a home spa ingredient, seeds can be ground into a milky, exfoliating paste which is useful for softening dry, cracking skin and the flowers can be blended in tea for sleeplessness, stress and tension.
When I lived in Belgium many years ago, a gardener asked me what my favourite flower was. “I love poppies,” I said. I had seen the wild, red flowers peppered across the European countryside in fields far and wide and they are quite a vision to behold. That was the day I learned the French word, “Coquelicot.”
I rummaged through my books and found a simple recipe, Lotion au coquelicot, in a book my mother gave me after her last trip to France a few years ago. The book is called, Les secrets de la beaute au naturel, written by Nicole Houques and Henri del Olmo and published in 2000 by Editions du Chene – Hachette Livre.
I’ll translate the “Poppy Lotion” recipe from French as best I can.
Lotion au coquelicot
Les secrets de la beaute au naturel, p 68
- 60 g of dried poppy petals
- 1 litre of boiling water
Bring 1 litre of water to a boil and then extinguish the heat source. Throw the petals in the pot and let them infuse into the water for 15 minutes. Filter out the petals and leave the infused water to cool. Pour into a bottle.
Apply the poppy petal infusion to your clean face. This lotion lessens fine lines and softens the skin.