Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Red Hair Myths and Facts

Red hair is a genetic mutation.

Red hair is seen on the heads of only four percent of people. Most of these exist in the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, and Australia.

The highest percentage of natural redheads in the world is in Scotland (13%), followed closely by Ireland with 10%. In the US, about 2% of the population are natural redheads.

The color Green tempers red. Look at a color chart. This is why redheads are taught as children to wear lots of green. As if red hair is a shameful state of being.

In the early 1600’s, at the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the belief of Pixies (aka fairies) emerged in southwest England. They were then and have since been strongly associated with red hair for their mischievousness and otherworldly talents.

A 2002 study found that redhead are harder to sedate than any other people requiring twenty percent more anesthesia. Inadequate doses cause people to wake up during surgery and have increased recall of procedures. 

Adults have about 120,000 hairs on their head; redheads have fewer, blondes have more, brunettes have the most.

Red headedness is, genetically speaking, a recessive trait. It may appear after several generations of darker hair.

Redheads don't turn grey. Red hair turned sandy, then white. They are also found to loose their color later in life than people carrying other hair colors.

The first human redheads walked this earth about 50,000 years ago in Africa and then spread throughout Northern Europe.

The country name of Russia means "land of reds" in honor of a redheaded Viking by the name of Rurik.

In the late 16th century, the fat of a redheaded man was an essential ingredient for poison.

Adams first wife Lilith, always depicted as a redhead, is known to have refused to lie beneath Adam during sexual intercourse, and stated” why should I lie beneath you when I am your equal since both of us were created from dust” –Patai

The first redheaded British monarch was a woman. Boudicca was a Celtic warrior was led her people, the Icenti, against the Romans in the C.E. 60’s.

Belief that redheads are witches is a folk belief in Germanic culture. From 1483-1784 thousands of suspected witches were nearly always stripped and searched for “marks of the devil”. These included any “abnormality” such as freckles, moles, warts, and birthmarks. Red hair was certainly considered an abnormality. Considering the freckle factor for redheads this was a deadly and shocking horror. Somewhere around 45,000 women were tortured and murdered usually by burning at the stake or by drowning.

The Egyptians regarded the color as so unlucky that they had a ceremony in which they burned red-headed maidens alive to wipe out the tint-  Claudie De Lys.

British Press recently reported that that the MC1R (redhead gene) will be used in DNA testing to rule out, or in, if suspected killers in crime scenes are redheads. This will narrow a search if the gene is found to a small percentage of perpetrators. The hope is that next skin color and physical features will be detectable.-Marion Roach

Archaeological digs in the Chinese desert of Takla Makan found mummified redheads dating back 3,000 years.

An Irish judge in 2001 fined a man for disorderly conduct stating “I am a firm believer that hair coloring has an effect on temper and your coloring suggests you have a temper.”

Redheads have always been thought untrustworthy. Judas is most always depicted as a redhead displaying the prejudice against red hair. 

The Romans kept red haired slaves, and at a higher price.

Adolph Hitler reportedly banned the marriages of two redheads as he feared their children would be “deviant offspring”.

“I'll beat you like a redheaded stepchild”. This phrase was born out of the American south and implies the status of illegitimate offspring with a white master.

In France, to be redheaded is thought to be a fate so dire that some women have formed a “Proud to be Red” association.

Red haired children have been historically branded as offspring of “unclean” sex. This has earned them taunts such as “red-knob” or “tampon tops.”

Bees are thought to sting redheads more than others.

In Denmark it is an honor to have a redheaded child.

In Corsica, if you pass a redhead in the street you are to spit and turn around.

In Poland, if you pass three red-heads you'll win the state lottery-Sylvia Stevez

In Greek Mythology, redheads turn into Vampires when they die.

During the Spanish Inquisition flame colored hair was evidence that its owner had stolen the fire of hell and had to be burned as a witch.

Russian tradition declares that red hair is both a sign that a person holds a fiery temper and craziness.

A Russian Proverb warns “There was never a saint with red hair.”

Folklore in Liverpool states that meeting a redhead at the beginning of a journey is a terrible luck and bad omen. If you came upon one while still on dock or aboard the ship, you are smart to return home.

In English and Scottish tradition when the New Year arrives, your “first caller” will bring you luck. Brunettes bring the best luck. Blondes bring no luck at all. A widower brings bad luck. A redhead brings the worst luck. This “first footing” custom was so strongly practiced at one time that some homes would hire first callers.

Aristotle was known to believe that redheads were emotionally unhousebroken.


magikalseasons said...

Fasinating! I'm a red head by choice fits me better than my natural blond. :)

JoyceAnn said...

I didn't know redheads were treated so badly , considering all that , being known for a fiery temper is not bad at all (LOL).

Jeanne , I plan to blog about your giveaway today , hope it's ok if I use your photo of the giveaway.

Happy St. Paddy's Day !!

Wikked Wit said...

I love your blog! So I gave you an award!! :)

The Frog Queen said...

My sister and I are both redheads. And we always give grief to the "pretenders" who die their hair and try to commandeer the red head mythos.

We both say that the "attitude" that redhead are "claimed to have" comes from a childhood of endless teasing for your hair color.

That would make anyone a bit "feisty"! :D


Missy AKA Little Messy Missy said...

My hubby is a red head. My teenage daughter is a red head. I have a red cat and a huge red golden retriever, not to mention a couple of big fat red hens. I am fond of "Gingers" I

Mama Feoneafey said...

Silly people to think red head are such bad luck.. I am a natural red head ( with brown eyes--talk about a genetic mutation)and my husband says I am his good luck charm..LOL

These were some truly interesting facts. Thank you for sharing!

I have an award for you

Zan Asha said...

But Jeanne, are you a red-head? :) I'm not a redhead, but these are some very interesting facts!!

Suzie said...

Hmmm, I guess the best place for me is Denmark! lol
BOTH of my grandpas had red hair! So it was almost a given that I'd at least have some red in my hair. Thankfully it wasn't the carrot red of my one grandpa, but tempered with the blond hair from my Dad (one of his sisters had the same color hair that I do)..and I got my brown eyes from my Mom, who had black hair.
Now my older daughter has nearly black hair, (their dad had black hair)but when she is in bright light, or outdoors, you can see all of the dark red in her hair. .my younger daughter has hair like mine. .and my son? The hair on the top of his head is also dark, but when he decides to grow a beard, it is bright, bright red! lol Genetics are facinating!!

Suzie said...

Hi Jeanne!

Me again! I can't believe I'm the first to tag you! Photo tag, that is!

First folder, 1oth image. Please post it, along with the story behind it! Have fun!!

Suzie said...

Me for the third time. .our DSL went down. .and we found an AT&T truck working on something at the box. I'm surprised the first part of the message went through!

Anyway, you also get to tag 5 more people!

Have fun!!

Bridgett said... what does it mean if a child had red hair and then grows out of it??

Seriously, this was fascinating. And a bit insane at the same time! LOL

Hela said...

Boy redheads really got the shaft through out history! Guess if you weren't a brunette you better wear a hat.

Desiree Garrison said...

Those are interesting facts! I'm a natural red-head with greyish blue eyes & I didn't know that much about the myths and or history regarding gingers. I was born with red hair, but a lot of redheads I've spoken to (which aren't that many) were born with brown or blonde hair. I always got teased when I was younger & then complimented when I got older which sort of confused me. So I eventually started dying my hair. I used to have a horrid temper but I don't anymore luckily! I am the only redhead in my family which apparently is a lot more common than I thought. My favorite color has always been red too!