Tulip Symbolism: Unlocking the Meaning Behind These Beautiful Flowers

With their bright blooms and hardy nature, tulips are one of the most beloved flowers on the planet. In fact, tulips even have their own dedicated festivals in many regions around the world.  And like other flowers, tulips have different meanings. They can be associated with both joyful and somber occasions.

Let’s dive deeper into tulip symbolism, meanings and the history of this bloom that once crashed the markets in Europe.

What Do Tulips Symbolize?


Red tulips with tulip cremation urn

Throughout history, tulips have been associated with different meanings. But there’s one meaning that has stayed with this flower across time and cultures: love.

Let’s take a closer look at what tulips symbolize, starting with a folktale that originated in Turkey and Persia.

Persian and Turkish Folklore of “Farhad and Shirin”

In many parts of the world, tulips are associated with “perfect love.” This idea of “perfect love” stems from the Persian and Turkish tales about the love between Farhad and Shirin.

Throughout history, there have been many variations of this love story. But there are two that stand out in the crowd.

In one tale, Farhad fell in love with a beautiful woman named Shirin. When Shirin suffered an untimely death, Farhad, crazed with grief, rode his horse off of a cliff. Red tulips were said to grow where his blood hit the ground.

In another variation of the story, Shirin was a princess, and Farhad was a stone cutter. Farhad tried many times to win over the affection of Shirin, but he was rejected. Filled with grief and heartbreak, Farhad went over the hills to play music in honor of his love, Shirin. After hearing his music, Shirin fell in love with Farhad.

To prove his love for her, Shirin asked Farhad to dig her a gigantic canal. It took him years to finish the digging.

Shirin’s father, unhappy with their budding romance, convinced Farhad that Shirin had died. The grief-stricken Farhad took his own life. Shirin, upon hearing the news of Farhad’s death, took her own life to join her lover in the afterlife. It is said that red tulips grew where their blood touched the ground, serving as a symbol of their everlasting love.

In both of these tales, their love came to a tragic end but lived on in the tulips that grew from their untimely end.

Floral Meaning of Tulips

floral meaning of tulips

Tulips, like most flowers, have meaning and symbolism attached to them. Farhad and Shirin’s tale reflects one of the most common meanings of tulips: love.

Tulips are also associated with:

  • Rebirth and new beginnings, as they are one of the first flowers to bloom in spring.
  • Charity and community. Victorians were believed to have associated tulips with this meaning.
  • In Iran, tulips have been a symbol of martyrs since 1979.

The meanings associated with tulips go beyond just the flowers themselves. In fact, different coloredtulips have different meanings.

Tulip Colors and What They Mean

Tulip Urn colors and what they mean

Tulips come in a variety of colors, and each color has a meaning. If you want to give tulips to a friend or loved one, it’s important to choose the right color for the occasion and your intent.


White tulips represent purity, innocence, forgiveness and respect. They are also given as a way to celebrate a rite of passage, such as a baptism or bar mitzvah.

White tulips can also be given to grieving friends or family members who have lost someone dear to them.


In the story of Shirin and Farhad, red tulips bloomed where their blood touched the ground and served as a representation of their undying love. It’s no surprise, then, that red tulips are associated with romance, love and passion.

Red tulips can be given on Valentine’s Day, as part of a proposal or just to tell that special someone that you care.


In old Victorian novels, yellow tulips were used as analogies for someone’s brilliant smile. Their cheery color is uplifting and joyful – like a smile that brightens up the room.

If you want to compliment someone on their brilliant smile, yellow tulips are the perfect choice.

Planting yellow tulips in the front yard is also believed to bring luck and prosperity.


Pink tulips are also associated with love and affection, but not necessarily in a romantic way. They symbolize friendship, well wishes and care. Send them to friends or family members to let them know you care and are thinking about them.

Pink tulips are also ideal for congratulating someone on a new job or achieving a life milestone.


The color purple has long been associated with royalty. Why? Because purple dye was rare and a luxury that only the wealthy could afford.

For this reason, purple flowers, including the tulip, are also associated with elegance and royalty.

Today, purple tulips are commonly found at weddings. They’re often given among friends and girlfriends who are “queens” at heart.


With this bright and uplifting appearance, orange tulips can truly light up the room. These flowers are often given to show that you appreciate and understand someone. They can also be given as a representation that you are spiritually and physically connected with someone.

Tulips Throughout History

Tulips have a long and rich history. Many people are surprised to learn that tulips did notoriginate in the Netherlands. In fact, they originated in Central Asia as wildflowers.

In 1000 AD, tulips were first cultivated in Turkey. The flower’s name comes from the Turkish word for “turban.”

In the 16th century, biologist Carolus Clusius brought tulips to Europe. By the 17th century, this flower had become all the rage. In fact, the Netherlands was so crazy for tulips that the flower caused the markets to crash. Their “tulip mania” caused the prices of flowers to soar.

A century later, tulips were still beloved all around the world. Turkey began hosting its own tulip festival, which is still held to this day. At the time, it was a crime to buy or sell tulips outside of the capital. Thankfully, that law is no longer upheld.

Today, tulips are still one of the most popular flowers on the planet. And the Netherlands is still known for its tulip cultivation. In the spring, their blanketed, colorful fields of these blooms are a sight to behold.

While tulips are often associated with love, purity and renewal, they also have a dark history. In times of war and famine, people ate tulip bulbs. During these difficult times, many people perished. The tulip bulbs were often blamed for these deaths because they caused skin rashes and stomach irritation.

Tulips are a Symbol of Spring and New Life

Tulips can have many different meanings, but one of the most powerful ones is rebirth and new life. They’re among the first flowers to bloom in the spring and a sure sign that the growing season isn’t far behind.

In this way – and on a deeper and more spiritual level – tulips can represent the journey that our loved ones take into the afterlife. They move on to the next stage of life, experiencing a rebirth of sorts.

Because they symbolize new life, tulips are commonly found on flower cremation urns. They represent hope, rebirth, purity and innocence. Their bright-colored blooms can serve as powerful reminders of our lost loved one’s personality and the joy they brought to our lives.


Tealight Tulip Cremation Urn as a Way to Remember a Loved One

Red orange tulips close up cremation urn reference

Orange, yellow and white are all part of this beautiful urn. While most loved ones choose this urn because of its look and design, it also plays off the colors of tulips and their meanings.

  • Orange: Represents your deep connection with the person on a physical and spiritual level. The gold-orange color of the leaves and tulip petals will serve as a reminder of this connection and your undying love for the person.
  • Yellow: Represents a person’s cheery disposition, serving as a reminder of the joy and happiness the person brought to your life. One look at this urn will bring back happy memories of the times spent together.
  • White: A symbol of purity, honor and respect. Often white tulips are given to grieving loved ones who have recently experienced a loss. White can also represent hope and light in the darkness.

This tealight cremation urn features a memorial candle holder and a deep midnight finish, making it a true work of art. The tulip urn is also available in adult and keepsake sizes.

Click here to view this cremation urn for yourself.


Final Thoughts

Tulips are one of the most loved flowers in the world, and it’s easy to see why. There is a tulip to fit every occasion, and their brightly colored petals make them a beautiful addition to any room. Whether you’re celebrating a new life, reaching a new milestone or grieving for a loved one, tulips are a thoughtful gift. Because their blooms can last for 10 days or more, tulips are often incorporated into funeral flower arrangements and cemetery flowers.

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