Human Flower Project

Raining Blooms on the Cortege

Throwing flowers to the prima ballerina—Yes. But what about to the deceased?


Flowers were cast onto the funeral cars of the late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria April 18. The couple and many others died April 10th in a plane crash near Smolensk, Russia.

Photo: Markus Schreiber, for AP

As the remains of Polish president Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria Kaczynska arrived in Krakow Sunday, citizens paid tribute en route. Thousands stood by, and many of them tossed flowers onto the funeral cortege – a beautiful custom.

We’ve also seen photographs of this tradition in England and Belarus—never in the United States, though.


Flowers thrown before the funeral procession for Alexander Marlitsky and Alexander Zhuravlevich, two Belarusian Air Force pilots, Sept. 3, 2009, in Baranovichi.

Photo: Segei Grits, for AP

Here’s a “decisive moment” captured by Sergei Grits – bright stems thrown before the funeral procession of two Belarus Air Force pilots who died in a performance of aerial acrobatics August 2009 (over central Poland, it so happened).

Perhaps readers have observed this custom in the U.S. If so, we hope they’ll recount the time and place. We’ve never seen it here in the States (in fact, it’s getting rarer that drivers will even pull to the side of the road when a hearse passes).

We hope someone will amplify on the range of this flower custom in Europe, or elsewhere. Is it a tradition of mourning principally in Eastern Europe? Is it only “appropriate” for dignitaries or do everyday people sometimes receive this soaring floral send-off too?


Mourners throw daffodils in tribute at the funeral cortege of the late Polish president and his wife in Warsaw

Photo: Getty

Finally, here’s an “honoree’s eye view” – a beautiful and imaginative shot, taken in Warsaw April 17 by, we believe, Pawel Supernak, for Getty. As Polish scouts, male and female, offered their salute, flowers of the season, daffodils, flew overhead toward the procession.

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