Color Symbolism: Red

When describing colour symbolism, it’s easy to try to label or over-generalise. For example, some schools teach a very basic understand of representative colours in the Western and Eastern halves of the world, much like when discussing philosophies, and suddenly someone says, “That’s such an Eastern Philosophy.”

It may seem hasty just the same to say that there are many differences, but the subtleties of cultures are what make them so great and unique.

The General Effects of the Colour Red
For example, are evocative and enticing. Red is commonly used in advertising for all things stimulating and appetising, like warm food, fancy make up, and fast cars. Along with orange and yellow, red boosts metabolism. In fact, Burger King’s sales actually saw a significant drop when the decision was made to change from dominant red and yellow colours to blue.

Red is the first colour that humans grow to see. While typically bound to violence in “seeing red,” and shame when blushing, it has been long thought of as a protective colour, and a ward of the very evil spirits that would incite such tendencies. Neolithic tribes in the Anglo-Saxon regions would, in ritual, bury their dead with powdered red ochre because red was a life-giving colour. The colour red in Japan, for example, marks holy areas, and the colour is carried by the guardians of those holy areas. Buddhist temples are also graced with red symbolising the expulsion of sickness or disease, prosperity, good luck, and a rich harvest.

Top 5 Color Associations for Red:
1. Love
2. Anger
3. Communism
4. Blood
5. Stop

Red in itself carries the duality of love and hate, violence and intimacy, and war and compassion. I tend to view it as a unifying colour. Not only does the colour bring these themes together, but it runs through all of us; regardless of gender, language, skin colour, height, weight, love, hate … we all carry the same red ochre, the same life-giving magic within ourselves.

What does red mean to you? What does it mean where you live?

Author: ruecian