Why are There Tulips in The Netherlands?
For many countries, warmer weather is just around the corner! One of the best-known symbols of the spring season is the beautiful tulip. When you think of tulips, you may naturally think about Holland and their famous ‘Tulip Mania’ era during the Dutch Golden Age.
Interestingly, the tulip is not native to Dutch countries. Historians believe the tulip probably originated on land somewhere between Northern China and Southern Europe. The plants were soon cultivated in the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey) and then imported into Holland in the sixteenth century. In 1952, well-known Dutch horticulturist, Carolis Clusius, wrote the first major book about tulips. This created a huge interest in the flowers, pushing the tulip into popularity and thus, into what is known as ‘Tulip Mania’.
‘Tulip Mania’ is considered to be the period of 1634 – 1637 when a single tulip bulb was sometimes worth as much as a house in Amsterdam! At the start, growing tulips became a favourite hobby of the wealthy. Because of this, the middle-class population would seek to own tulips since the flower became seen as a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Commoners quickly began to notice that the price of bulbs was driven up due to the fascination with the flower and began to use the phenomenon to their advantage.
Soon bulbs were being sold at a great profit – sometimes changing hands several times a day. In the winter, when tulip bulbs were buried in the ground and not blooming, people sold paper “contracts”. The paper essentially stated that the person was buying the right to dig up the bulb when the flower had bloomed in the spring. It was not long before the Dutch were obsessed with the lovely tulip. And if they could not afford a real bulb, they would settle for objects such as art, ceramics, pictures or fabric with the tulip on them. In the year 1637, tulips prices ‘crashed’ and ‘Tulip Mania’ came to an end.
The Dutch tulip trade, however, is still alive and well. The Netherlands has perfected the art of growing the tulip and is considered a major provider of the bulbs worldwide. People around the world have fallen in love with this beautiful flower. Learn more by watching this amusing, informative video, ‘The History of the Tulip’, on the Amsterdam Tulip Museum’s website!