From the earliest cultures, colors have had their symbolic meaning. What they represented and the way they were used in cultural ceremonies varies from culture to culture, and was changed throughout history. Mystic meaning of colors often originates from religious, spiritual, social and historical events.
Red is the color human eye sees in the setting sun, fire, blood, sweet fruit, and it is also the color of human heart - which was treated differently in cultures which practiced human sacrifice.
The color red is known to be the color of love and passion in Europe and North and South America. Red is the color we use to celebrate Valentine’s Day, color of roses, candles, balloons we express our deepest feelings with.
Meanwhile in Asia and Africa, different cultures use the same color to express a variety of symbols. If we take a look at India - in Indian culture red represents various things: fear, wealth, purity, love, marriage, beauty. If a women is wearing red henna on their hands and indoor, they are telling us they are married.
Nearby, In China, red represents luck and fertility. During the celebration of Chinese New Year, they distribute small red envelopes to share good fortune. Women also wear red during their wedding day, as they connect it with fertility.
People of Thailand see red as the color of Surya, the sun god. In Thailand, every day is represented by color, and red is their color for Sunday.
Orthodox Church, for example, uses the color red to mark certain dates in the calendar, which are reserved for celebration of an important saint, and on that day, out of respect, people are not meant to perform chores in the house.
In some African cultures, red stands for death and grief. In Nigeria and South Africa, it symbolizes violence and sacrifice. Red on the flag of South Africa shows the violence during the fight for their freedom.
Now we see that some cultures particularly use red to mark the days for resting, praying, showing respect for the spiritual forces, while others, with more violent history, connect red with blood and rebellion.
Either way, red is the color that we'll always connect with something powerful and strong, the color which tells us to pay attention, be precocious and stop at the traffic sign.
About the author
Nina Petrov is an activist, poet, performer and mathematician. She communicates with the world mostly through words, movement and equations, but sometimes also by speaking very loudly. The only truth she could say about herself is that she keeps changing every day, never stops learning and interacting with her surroundings.