The Canadian Tulip Festival is getting underway at Commissioners Park in Ottawa.
There are tours of the thousands and thousands of tulips on display, there are fireworks, there’s even tulip bingo.
It’s a huge draw for those who love the flowers, and those who know their history, too.
Because, with pun intended, the Tulip Festival has its roots in the history of World War II.
Canada may host the festival, but the country best known for tulips is the Netherlands.
There are millions and millions of bulbs there, in fields that seem to go on forever and ever.
It’s a point of pride for the country, but also a painful part of its history.
During World War II, when the Netherlands was occupied by the Nazis, some people had nothing to eat except tulip bulbs.
The Allies fought to liberate the Netherlands from occupation, and Canada did some of the hardest fighting.
Over 7,000 Canadian servicemembers gave their lives during the liberation.
The country also played host to members of the Netherlands’ royal family.
In fact, Princess Juliana stayed in Ottaway for three years, and gave birth to her daughter Margriet there.
Canada’s government temporarily declared the maternity ward to be extraterritorial space, so that the baby was a 100 percent Dutch citizen and part of the line of succession.
After the liberation, the royals returned home; in gratitude to their hosts, they sent 100,000 tulips to Canada.
The royal family and tulip growers in the Netherlands make a new gift of tulips each year.
Some of those tulips are planted on the site of the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa.
And this year, one of the guests on the opening day: Princess Margriet.
If you can’t make it this week to Ottawa for the Canadian Tulip Festival, there’s also the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan.
This year’s event features a Tulip Immersion Garden, with 50,000 flowers that take you through the long and colorful history of tulips.
Of course, as the old dad joke goes, you can’t plant flowers if you haven’t botany.
2022 Tulip Time Festival (Holland.org)