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Tulips and Valentine's Day

Melissa Dunlap is a writer, editor and blogger specializing in lifestyle communications. Fueled by curiosity, and a tad too much coffee, Melissa enjoys dissecting current trends for the modern woman. When she's not having dance parties w...

Step aside roses, tulips are a symbol of love too!

Valentine's Day is most commonly associated with roses, but don't feel left out if you receive a bouquet of tulips instead. Tulips are the second-most popular Valentine's Day flower and are an expression of perfect love.  For what it's worth, I like them better than roses.


Valentine's Day is most commonly associated with roses, but don't feel left out if you receive a bouquet of tulips instead. Tulips are the second-most popular Valentine's Day flower and are an expression of perfect love.  For what it's worth, I like them better than roses.

While tulips are usually thought of as a Dutch flower, they originated in the Middle East.  Since it was common practice for Turks and Persians to wear the flowers to adorn their turbans, Europeans began calling the flowers "tulips," from the Persian word for turban. Tulips became wildly popular in Europe in the 17th century, especially in the Netherlands. The bulb flower was so popular in fact, that demand for the flowers resulted in "tulip mania," and the inflated tulip prices eventually resulted in an economic bubble burst similar to the recent housing market crash.

Today's tulips are not subject to price wars, and they fall in about the same range as roses--usually slightly less expensive. Unlike roses, tulips can grow in pots, so a live tulip plant could be a longer-lasting Valentine gift. A gardener may even appreciate tulip bulbs to plant in a container or save until fall for garden planting.

Live or cut, tulips are symbolic of love.  According to Turkish legend, Prince Farhad was in love with a young woman named Shirin. When Shirin was murdered, Farhad was so grief-struck that he killed himself by charging his horse off a cliff. A scarlet tulip grew from each drop of his blood. Not exactly a perfect fairytale ending, but it associated tulips with "perfect love." It is also said that the tulip’s velvety, dark center represents a lover's heart, flushed  by the heat of passion.

Like roses, different tulip colors take on further romantic meanings:

  • Red: true love

  • Yellow: cheerful thoughts and smiles

  • Cream: eternal love

  • White: purity

  • Purple: royalty

  • Pink: affection

  • Orange: passion and desire

  • Variegated (multicolored): beautiful eyes


More Valentine's Day Flowers:
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