We needed a name
Our exhibition honours the role that the ancestors of current Hoby residents played in the First World War. The exhibition was initially referred to as “The Ancestor Exhibition” but we knew we needed a more meaningful title than this.
When one of our members told us about a photograph she had of her Mother and Great Aunt selling forget me nots to raise money during the first world war, we knew that Forget Me Not was the perfect name for our exhibition.
Forget Me Nots as a symbol of remembrance and love
In May 1916 the City of Liverpool and the Borough of Bootle held a week of fundraising events in order to raise funds for the widows and orphans of the men who had already fallen in the war. This was to be the country’s first Roll of Honour Week, an idea that was later taken up by other towns and cities. The week reached a climax on the following Saturday 13th May when a Naval, Military and Civic Demonstration was held at St George’s Hall. Saturday was also chosen as the official Flag Day – the flag itself represented a bunch of Forget Me Not flowers on a blue ground – when 2,000 volunteers sold over half a million flags throughout the area.
The attached photograph show a lady and her niece selling Forget Me Nots in Northampton to raise funds during the First World War
Prior to becoming the tenth province of Canada in 1949, Newfoundland (then a separate British Dominion) used the Forget Me Not as a symbol of remembrance of that nation’s war dead. This practice is still in limited use today, though Newfoundlanders have adopted the Flanders Poppy as well.
Silk embroidered postcards sent from the trenches during the First World War often featured Forget Me Nots as well as flags and other flowers.
Folklore and Legend around Forget Me Not flowers
In a German legend, God named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out, “Forget-me-not, O Lord!” God replied, “That shall be your name.” Another legend tells when the Creator thought he had finished giving the flowers their colours, he heard one whisper “Forget me not!” There was nothing left but a very small amount of blue, but the forget-me-not was delighted to wear such a light blue shade.
Henry IV adopted the flower as his symbol during his exile in 1398, and retained the symbol upon his return to England the following year.
In 15th-century Germany, it was supposed that the wearers of the flower would not be forgotten by their lovers. Legend has it that in medieval times, a knight and his lady were walking along the side of a river. He picked a posy of flowers, but because of the weight of his armour he fell into the river. As he was drowning he threw the posy to his loved one and shouted “forget me not”. It was often worn by ladies as a sign of faithfulness and enduring love.
Margaret Freeman, who cites the use of Forget Me Not as a token of steadfastness by several fifteenth-century German love poets, speculates that the color blue, associated with fidelity in the Middle Ages, may have contributed to the flower’s meaning.