For over a decade, Azerbaijan celebrated the birthday of former president Heydar Aliyev with a holiday called Flower Day. Elaborate floral displays were featured in public parks across the country, especially in Baku.
But the holiday was scaled back last year, as the date, May 10, coincided with the end of the 40-day mourning period after heavy fighting with Armenian forces in April, 2016, claimed the lives of nearly 100 Azerbaijanis. And this year, too, the holiday is being celebrated in a more modest fashion, with a variety of small events in which ordinary Azerbaijanis were encouraged to show off their own arrangements.
Officials have offered scant explanation for the new format this year. “In order to ensure more active participation, we decided to organize it in a different way,” was all that the Baku mayor’s office told local media outlets.
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Durna Safarova is a freelance journalist who covers Azerbaijan.