Roadside Memorials in Russia

The roadside memorials are a part of the mourning culture in Russia. These objects are important for the relatives of deceased.

Similar to graves, the roadside memorials often contain a bench and a small table, a tombstone or a cross, a lot of artificial flowers. Sometimes they include car details: steering wheels, tires, wheels.

Roadside memorials are not common only in Russia. You can see them all over the world, including the US, Canada and Australia.

The Religion and Society in Central and Eastern Europe journal researched the origin of this tradition:


Traditional Russian folk culture, mostly that of the peasants, considers people whose deaths are premature as having died unnaturally – for instance, people, who died unpredictably, young or in an unnatural death, as well as those who commit suicide and “sorcerers” and “witches”. In Russian folk tradition, these people are considered to be zalozhnye (“hostage”) in death, and traditionally they were not commemorated in the Orthodox way. Instead, people used to commemorate them on a special day – semik (the seventh Thursday after Easter) and considered them to have become evil spirits or brodyachie – “wandering” dead men. As “bad” deceased they could not be buried inside the cemetery and often had graves outside the premises. People threw heaps of rags, garbage and twigs when passing the places of their premature deaths and/or their graves. But sometimes crosses or even chapels and monasteries were set at special cemeteries for zalozhnye deceased. And despite the general negative attitude towards this type of deceased, some of them were canonised by the Church.

In contrast, in contemporary Russia, those who die unexpectedly, for instance in a car accident, in a fire, or commit suicide, do not lose commemoration. Instead they get a double commemoration – at the grave and at the memorial near their place of death.

In modern Russia, the setting of the commemorative signs at the places of car accidents has become widespread, because the number of cars increased.

The social attitude toward this phenomenon is contradictory. Some consider it as a caution against careless driving others consider it to be a negative sign or an evil omen.

Kostroma - Yaroslavl

Kostroma – Yaroslavl

Yaroslavl-Rybinsk

Yaroslavl-Rybinsk

Yaroslavl-Rybinsk

Yaroslavl-Rybinsk

Yaroslavl-Rybinsk

Yaroslavl-Rybinsk

Yaroslavl-Rybinsk

Yaroslavl-Rybinsk

Yaroslavl-Rybinsk

Yaroslavl-Rybinsk

Images by aquatek-filips.livejournal.com

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