Looking through NASA Johnson's Flickr I saw this photo (and also this one). The complete caption is shown below.

Expedition 49 Preflight

nhq201609160011 (09/16/2016) --- Expedition 49 flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA left, and Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov take part in the traditional tree planting ceremony at the Cosmonaut Hotel on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on September 24 Kazakh time. Photo Credit: (NASA/Victor Zelentsov)

below: NASA image from here with Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license.

Cosmonaut Tree Planting Ceremony

up vote 3 down vote accepted

As most of cosmonauts traditions, this started from Yuri Gagarin (at least the first tree there was planted by him). Source: Traditions and rituals of Russian cosmonauts (BBC Russian, in russian, use google translate)

Edit: here is English version of the text, but it does not contain words about the tree planted by Gagarin

  • (ESA blog entry also referring to Gagarin.) I wonder what made Gagarin plant his tree in the first place. Is this related to some Russian tradition? – DarkDust Jan 24 at 11:57
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    @DarkDust: A kind of tradition in some slavic countries comes from a saying/proverb: "Every man, in his life, should build a house, plant a tree, and father a son." The times make building houses individually not so practical (usually buying one is considered sufficient) but the two other points stand. Usually, when you have a son and a house, and you're about to endeavor something risky, it's a good time to plant a tree. – SF. Jan 24 at 12:09
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    @SF: We have this proverb in Western Europe (at least in Germany) as well. This may indeed explain the idea behind this tradition (to drive this further: how many children were born 9 months after their fathers flew into space? ;-) – DarkDust Jan 24 at 12:20

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