Red as protection against bad influences and as a sign for luck and good feeling (red roses)

Still today Aborigines in Australia use to dye their arms with red colour. It's supposed that the hunters of the Stone Age and later also the Germanic warriors dipped their arms or even themselves into the blood of the hunted animals, like the hero of the legend of Siegfried.

Also many other peoples who lived afterwards, wore red painted amulets or red precious stones like the garnet or the ruby as protection against the "bad glance".

Many peoples used to wear red ribbons or scarves during their wedding ceremonies. In Nuernberg during the 18th century the rich Patrician Ladies married in a red wedding dress. This tradition existed already during the time of the Romans: the Roman brides were wrapped in a fire-red scarf, called "Flammeum", which should grant fertility and love. Still today the Greek, the Albanian and the Armenian brides wear red wedding veils. In china the bride, dressed in a red wedding dress, is carried in a red sedan to the wedding place. There she strides on a red carpet towards the bridegroom and he welcomes her by lifting her red veil. When a child is born, the neighbours of the happy couple bring red eggs as a sign for luck and good feeling.

The red rose is a symbol of love and fidelity. According to the Greek legend red roses originated from the blood of Adonis, who was killed by a wild boar during the hunt. The ancient Greek regarded the rose as a symbol for growing and passing in nature, but also for love and affection. The rose was consecrated to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and daughter of Zeus and the Roman goddess Venus.

With the introduction of Christianity the importance of the colour red in connection with the Germanic gods was decreased. They turned into devils with red hair and red beard. Women with red hair were despised as prostitutes or witches and the poppy flower from now on was called the devil's flower. Christianity needed an enemy and tried to condemn sexuality which was associated to the red colour. The hair of Holy Mary, which has been painted red until the Middle Ages turned now into blonde. An old proverb says: "Red hair, bad hair!" These discriminating images are still alive in some country side populations.

(Thomas Seilnacht)

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Red as status symbol