Secrets of the Tulips
We all know it as the emblem of the Netherlands: the tulip – a beautiful flower that comes in different shapes and colors. But do you know the secrets of the tulip? If not, stay tuned! Because in this blog you will hear about them.
Let’s start by taking a look into the past.
Did you know that some species of the tulip were already cultivated centuries ago in the Mediterranean and Middle East area? Ancient writers from Greece and Rome did not mention the flower, but since the 13th century it has appeared in the works of poets, on pottery or clothing. In the 16th century the tulip was imported as a garden flower from Turkey to central and western Europe. In old Turkish and Persian writings where the tulip was described, it was called Lale, which is also a popular female first name today.
The golden age of the Netherlands, i.e. the 17th century, was also a very special time for tulips. This period even has its own name today: Tulip Mania. At that time, the flower was mainly planted in the gardens of upper social and wealthy classes. The prices for tulips had risen immensely and around 1630 the bulbs cost more than an expensive canal house in Amsterdam. Whereas these cost about 10,000 guilders at the time, in 1637 the bulbs were bid for at around 30,000 guilders. However, the prices also depended a lot on the kind of tulip. Not every kind cost that much. Furthermore, this boom soon came to an end when the economy suddenly collapsed in February 1637.
If we now look into the history of the 20th century, we see that the tulip cannot only be a pretty flower, but also a lifesaver. Towards the end of the Second World War, in the winter of 1944/1945, there was a great famine in the Netherlands. In this catastrophe people had to get creative to survive. Doctors were commissioned to test the tulip bulb for edibility. When it was confirmed that people could eat it, the tulip became one of the substitute foods, saving the lives of a large part of the population. As there was no export of the flowers, there were plenty of them in stock, making them the perfect substitute. In the end, a few million people were affected by the famine of this winter and the number of those who died of hunger is estimated at around 20,000. After the end of the war, the tulip was a symbol of the so-called Hongerwinter.
But let’s get to the nice things again!
The tulips bloom from the end of March to the middle of May. However, they are at their most beautiful in April. It is highly recommended to visit the colorful tulip fields of Holland during this time. You either stop on the way to take some pretty pictures and buy tulips, or you visit places like The tulip barn or Keukenhof, where the flowers are beautifully arranged for visitors. In addition, if you have a partner: It is also a perfect and gorgeous birthday, anniversary or Valentine’s Day gift. Moreover, while you are discovering ‘typical Holland’, you might as well visit the famous windmills of Zaanse Schans, which you can read more about in one of our blogs .
Enjoy the spring in the Netherlands, we would love to welcome you soon!