Monday, March 25, 2013

Canadian Tulip Festival

A bed of tulips during the Ottawa Tulip Festiv...
A bed of tulips during the Ottawa Tulip Festival. Major's Hill Park, Ottawa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Canadian Tulip Festival
Canadian Tulip Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Canadian Tulip Festival is an annual event in Ottawa, Canada's capital, held in May. 2013 marks its 61st occurrence. Starting in 1953, it has developed into the largest tulip festival in the world, featuring over a million tulips each year to be viewed.

But how did this tradition start, and why does it continue to be held? It's all owed to the long-lasting friendship between the Canadian and the Dutch originating from World War II, when Canada was an Allied Power and the Netherlands a territory occupied by the Axis.

Princess Juliana and her family fled to and resided in Ottawa during much of the war for protection, and the Canadian government indeed offered them safe-haven. At the same time, Canadian troops were among those responsible for liberating the country of the Netherlands from German control. The Dutch people and their princess expressed deep gratitude to their Canadian brothers and sisters in 1945 by sending 100,000 tulips to the capital.

Now, the giving of the tulips happens once every year, and the Netherlands send 20,000 tulip bulbs a year to Ottawa. At Commissioner's Park in the spring, an arrangement called the Queen Juliana Gift Bed commemorates the royal maiden.

Other traditions other than the flower viewing at this yearly festival include outdoor music concerts and Celebridée, a unique event allowing speakers to bring up important issues to their listeners and discuss the issues, with anything ranging from physics to literature, medicine and beyond. 

Sources: Ottawa, Tulip, Canada's, Wikipedia
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