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National Tulip Day in Amsterdam

Windmills, wooden shoes, dykes, bicycles, canals, Gouda cheese –all of these symbolise the Netherlands, but the tulip has an even greater claim to emblematic status, and, along with other flowers, is one of the country’s main exports.

The tulip’s name is derived fromdulband, an old Persian word for “turban”, and the flower was originally cultivated in the region comprising today’s Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, where it had religious connotations and adorned the tents and palaces of sultans.

The Flemish scholar and pioneering horticulturalist Carolus Clusius (1526-1609) was the first person to manage to cultivate tulips in Europe, and is regarded as the founder of the Dutch tulip industry.

The tulip was initially a luxury item for which large sums were paid, and in the 17th C. a speculative “tulip bubble” expanded to gigantic proportions –a sale of 40 bulbs for 100,000 florins was recorded in a year when a Dutch workman earned about 150 florins a year. But the bubble soon burst.

Today, entire fields carpeted with the colourful flowers adorn the Netherlands, especially in the northeast, the Kop van Noord-Holland region, and Bollenstreek with its famous Keukenhof, the world’s largest floral park, with as many as seven million tulip bulbs sprouting every spring.

This year’s National Tulip Day falls on Saturday, 17th January. It is regarded at the start of the tulip season, which finishes when late tulips are picked and the end of April. It is celebrated throughout the Netherlands, but Amsterdam’s Damm square is the place to be.

Tulip growers show their best early flowers there, turning the square into a mosaic of colours and textures, to the delight of tulip fanciers, including many foreign visitors, who are regaled with bouquets to take home.

In the course of the tulip season Dutch growers will sell more than 1,700 million flowers. Most of them to export markets.

Serious tulip fans should also visit Amsterdam’s Tulip Museum, which tells the story of the tulip in its historical context. The museum is in the Jordaan neighbourhood, just across the bridge from the Anne Frank house.

Check out or flights here!

Report by Scanner FM

Photograph by Kang-min Liu


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