The tulip is the harbinger of spring. The first flower to bloom. The one that gives us hope and a glimpse into the beauty to come.
They are the true meaning of perfection. They grow tall and straight, striking and glorious, and for this reason you can find entire tulip farms dedicated to producing and selling these lovely, delicate-looking blooms as soon as the season arrives.
Suddenly stores are filled to the brim with tulips everywhere, and you cannot help but bring them home to sit in vases, with windows open, and trust that spring is here. Thus, it is clear why the tulip has long held humans enraptured, fascinated, and forming mythology and symbolism around the ultimate plant of spring.
Table Of Contents
An Overview of the Tulip Plant
Filling borders in gardens, planters along sidewalks, and pots under windows, tulips are the epitome of bright, colorful, joy. It is also a flower relatively new to the modern world. Native to Kazakhstan, tulips were brought to Europe only after the Ottoman Empire conquered Kazakhstan, and the conquerors fell for the flower.
From that point, the tulip sprung up in Turkey then across Europe. Since that time, the tulip has been celebrated at festivals, given as gifts, and used as a symbol of nobility on various uniforms.
Eastern countries have a long history with this glorious, flaming flower; Persia cultivated the tulip as far back as the tenth century, and paintings, buildings, and dishes show the regions love of this beauty across the centuries. Painters focused primarily on the “flaming tulip,” which appeared to have flames on the petals due to a virus. The flaming tulips we cultivate in modern times appear as they do because of a genetic link.
In the 1950s, the tulip found a strong foothold in Dutch culture, and today the Netherlands produces more tulips than any other country in the world. Tulips are now a symbol of Dutch life, adorning their art, paintings, and souvenirs.
Perhaps one of the things that makes this flower so popular in so many cultures, aside from its beauty, is how easy it is to grow and care for. In truth, you really only have to plant tulip bulbs in the ground in the fall then wait for them to burst through the earth in spring.
They are cold hardy, even in snow, and they don’t ask for much more than water and sunlight, which come readily with the season.
What Does a Tulip Plant Symbolize?
The word “tulip” comes from the Persian word for turban as the petals of the plant when in full bloom resemble the shape of a turban. From those early days, tulips have long symbolized “perfect love.”
In Persian and Turkish mythology, the tulip stands for the love between the legendary Farhad and Shirin.
Farhad, according to the myth, was a prince in love with his maid, Shirin. As such, it was a forbidden love. One day, he was told that Shirin was dead, and he raced his horse to a cliff to throw himself off.
As he landed on the rocky ground and found his death, his blood drops were splattered over all the rocks. The legend says that for each drop of his blood, a purple tulip grew to symbolize his perfect love for Shirin.
Even today, Persia, now Iran, recognizes the tulip as the symbol for passionate love.
In the western world, the tulip is not so much a symbol of passionate love as one of that aforementioned perfect love. It is a perfect, deep love that can endure anything, as the tulip bulb endures the harsh snow of winter to bloom in the spring.
Furthermore, superstition generally holds that the tulip holds messages of abundance, love, luck, protection, and even fame.
Does Giving a Tulip Plant as a Gift Have Meaning?
You can give the tulip as a gift for a variety of reasons, and it is almost always going to represent love in one form or another. Whether you are hoping to express interest in someone new, affection for someone you have recently started dating, or abiding love to a family member close to you, the meaning is clear. You love this person and hope to love them for a long time.
You can also give tulips to friends as a way of inviting positivity into their lives, so be sure to give tulips in a vase that can rest on a central table. That way the energy can flow through the home.
You can also choose a specific color of tulip to symbolize different meanings. For example, pink tulips represent happiness, and yellow tulips stand for cheerful thoughts.
Do Tulip Plants Help with Feng Shui?
As with the rest of the world’s thoughts on tulips, feng shui holds tulips as a symbol of wealth and abundance. You can decorate your home with live or fake tulips or even tulip art and bring love and fortune into your home.
Red tulips specifically in feng shui tradition represent fame and recognition, so if you know someone who is trying to make a name for themselves, the red tulip is the perfect feng shui symbol.
Do Artificial Tulip Plants Look Real and Do They Maintain Their Symbolism?
If, for whatever reason, you cannot or do not want to have real tulips – maybe an allergy or an inability to care for them – you can always invest in fake tulips. Today, it is a simple matter of purchasing high-quality artificial tulips, and your home will flourish with the loveliness of spring all year long if you like.
And if you, like many people, are worried that fake flowers are just not on trend, you’re not alone. To help you figure this out, check out my article on whether artificial plants and flowers are tacky.
In the end, tulips are a wonderful flower to have in your home, in your garden, or to give as a gift, symbolism and all.
What do you think? Do you have any interesting notes on tulips? Let me know in the comments. I love to hear from my readers.