A History of Tulips in Holland the Dutch Trade

Going to the Netherlands and seeing the colourful flowers in real life should be on your bucket list. The country is famous for its tulip farms and known by many as “the flower shop of the world.” The tulip is the Netherlands’ national symbol. If you visit the countryside, what you will see there are tulip farms and fields. In these areas, you will see a vase of tulips that give different shades of colour to the fields, which attracts a number of tourists and known to have helped the county earn income on these tulips as part of their trade. They are also known for their tulip festivals which many people would come and celebrate, and tulip museums which are must-visit places in the Netherlands.


History of Tulips

Although the Netherlands is widely known for its tulips, it is worthy for you to know also that these tulips are actually not native to the country. In other words, the tulips did not originate in the fields of the Netherlands. Many historians believed that the tulips are originally from central Asia in the Tien Shan Mountains, and has for decades been cultivated by men in the Ottoman Empire.

It was not until the 16th century where the tulips were brought in the Netherlands. It fascinated a lot of Western Europeans and the Flemish botanist named Carolus Clusius. As part of his research on medicinal plants, he cultivated these tulips and planted a number of bright and beautiful tulips in his own garden in Leiden.  It was part of his study and his curiosity to know what causes the colours of the tulips. He was then known in the Netherlands to have spearheaded the cultivation of tulips.


Tulip Mania

It then became a huge part of the Holland trade and other areas of Europe back in the 17th century. The tulips became really famous that many would want to have tulips in their own gardens or as decorations on it. It became a status symbol back then, and it did really make a huge impact on the economy that each bulb was sold for a high value, as the people’s interest in these flowers began to become bigger and bigger over time. Some historians would also claim that the tulips, at some point in their era, became a form of money or in exchange for guilder. The guilder was the Dutch currency prior to euros. Since these flowers are very rare and only Carolus Clusius had a bunch of these making the tulips a hard one to find, then many people had ransacked his garden multiple times just to steal bulbs of these tulips. It became more famous when the people knew that what causes the colors of these flowers is a virus, and the infected tulips started to be sold at a very costly price. Despite its high-priced value, the demand for the infected tulip continued to soar high to the point that it almost destroyed the economy. People in the Netherlands were even willing to give up their properties in exchange for a number of tulip bulbs. At that time, the bulbs of this flower cost over 10 times a working man’s average salary and made it to the point where it became more valuable than homes. Just like the story of exchanging a whole townhouse for 10 bulbs of these tulips. In the same century, many famous economists comment and describe the incident as an event that changed the Dutch trade. The bulbs were really priced very high which some would say that it could already feed, clothe, and house a whole Dutch family. From there on, the “Tulip Mania” or the “Tulip Craze” was made popularly known as the extraordinary event in the history of the tulip trade in Holland. The term used to describe a speculative stock market scandal.

The incredible trade of tulips eventually destroyed the Dutch trade and economy. It was at that point, where people finally realized the worth and value of the tulips and knew that it was not the only type of investment that people should risk and gamble. People then stopped capitalizing the tulips on a preposterous price and stopped honoring contracts involving the tulips. The trade of tulips fell down really hard that the Dutch government experienced difficulties reviving and stabilizing its own economy. In addition, the fall of the tulip trade destroyed numerous businessmen in a short span of time.


Today’s Tulips

Today, the Netherlands is still the major exporter and producer of tulips in the whole world, with over three billion tulips being exported every year. It is still very popular and festivals are even held every year in celebration of the tulips. If you visit Amsterdam, make sure that your visit timing falls on one of the tulip festivals they have every year. During these festivals, thousands of these colorful tulips are displayed around the city of Amsterdam to celebrate the famous tulips. These festivals commemorate the “Tulip Mania” which these tulips constantly remind the people of the horrible and unbelievable event that occurred in the Dutch trade history. Tourist also comes to the Netherlands for the tulips and for the country’s tulip attractions. There are numerous tulip gardens and fields you can find and visit in the country. Another interesting fact about these tulips is that the Vatican even delegated to the Netherlands its task to handle and take charge of the preparations of the Easter Floral display.