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Half asleep, senses anticipating torpor at the two hour meeting awaiting me at work, I trudged off at 7.00am yesterday morning. Only to be rudely awakened to full alertness en route, by two teenage lads yelling 'awight ginga?' and 'oy, ginga, your legs would look good as a scarf!'

Well really! It's come to something when you're being wolf-whistled at by teenage boys, especially if you haven't been a teenager yourself for quite some time. (They're doing the teenager thing wrong in any case: people should have to crowbar you out of bed at that age...)

And then there's that name again. Ginga. I can't say I was particularly offended, and I don't assault minors, so I just carried on to work. But I did wonder why Ginga? Still? I know it pre-dates me. The UK boasts some of the best known and revered wordsmiths of all time, living and dead. So, seriously? No one has come up with a better nick name? And just what is it about red hair anyway? Why such a mixture of dread and fascination. (In some cases this fascination borders on a fetish...)

This blog is a collection of myths, facts and outright absurdities about red heads. I doubt I'll do more than scratch the surface of this contentious issue but hopefully it'll be entertaining.

First up Eygpt. The ancient Egyptians were very superstitious and really couldn't decide which way to swing on the whole red-head issue. It was thought that red-heads were descended from the god of the underworld, Set - brother of Osiris. Ramses the Great was red-headed apparently. On the other hand, the colour red was thought to be unlucky and red-headed women were burned or buried alive to prevent them spreading the taint.(Yikes!)

The ancient Greeks believed that when a red-head died, they turned into a vampire. Really. It gets better, Aristotle, philosopher and general smarty-pants, described red-heads as being 'emotionally un-housebroken.' I would just love to know what that is supposed to mean.

The Romans paid the highest prices for red-headed slaves, whilst at the same time Deo-Cassius was likening red-hair to being of terrible aspect. He was describing Boudicca who did make full grown male Romans (at 5'4" hahahah!) soil themselves, so perhaps he can be forgiven.

The Russians have the charming proverb 'there never was a saint with red hair'. In Russia, red hair is equated with fierce temper and madness.

The Irish believe red hair to be lucky. (Thank goodness someone likes us!)

In Hebrew tradition red-hair is associated with treachery - Judas being regularly portrayed with red hair. If you look into this a bit more thoroughly however, you'll see that in the 'code' used by painters and artists of the renaissance, red hair denoted a royal line. Often these beliefs contradicted the Church, so symbolism in art was used. Most artists would have starved to death without the Church's patronage.

The Nazi's were unwilling to allow red-haired people to wed as they feared degenerate offspring would be the result.

In the middle ages, red hair was considered incontestable proof that an accused person was a witch - at least by the Spanish inquisition (being the broad minded, fair and open inquisition that they were.) It was thought that red-headed women had stolen the fires of hell and had to be returned there through fire. Nice.

In Corsica if you pass a red-head on the street, you are supposed to turn around and spit, to ward off ill luck. Think I'll be staying away from Corsica then, as I used to get quite enough of that working in dentistry.

In medieval times, a child born with red hair was apparently conceived during 'that time of the month'. At this point I actually want to smack my palm into my forehead, but I'll continue. It gets more ridiculous.

Celtic/ British legend has it that King Arthur had red hair; in times of trouble a red-headed leader will rise and save the country. Both Elizabeth the first and Winston Churchill have been suggested as answering this myth.

In 2001 (yes, only 12 years ago) an Irish judge fined a red-haired man for disorderly conduct saying 'I am a firm believer that hair colouring has an effect on temper and your colouring suggests you have a temper'. *smacks palm into forehead again*

Red-head? Fire in bed. Apparently we're all over sexed and animalistic in the sack as well as being mad, bad tempered, treacherous witches... Oh I give up. Here are some facts, common superstitions and quotes.


The V60L gene allele mutation (red hair and fair skin) occurred some time after modern humans left what is now Africa but before they spread throughout Europe. This was likely selected for, in evolution terms, for the ability to absorb vitamin D from sunlight in less sunny climates. Like Scotland - kidding! Scotland wasn't there then. But we have been around for at least 25,000 years.

Red-heads have fewer hairs on their heads (the average adult has 120,000 - who counted them?!) but go grey much later in life.

On average, red heads need 20% more anaesthetic to go numb than others - University of Louisiana study. Well anyone who's been drinking with a red-head knows that! Although I am slightly worried that someone actually did a pain resilience test on gingas.


Popular today - Redheads have no souls. Thank you South park.

Redheads have only six layers of skin - who comes up with this crap?

Salute no red-haired man nearer than 30 feet off and, even so, hold three stones in the fist wherewith to defend thyself.

Never lodge at red-haired people’s houses for these be folks that are to dread.(Since you lived with me for three years, Shell how do you feel about that?)

If you happen to walk any distance between two red-headed girls, it’s a sign that you will soon be very rich.

Red-headed women are either violent or false. (rolling my eyes.)

Red hair denotes a person of sharp wit, easily agitated, unforgiving, but once a friend, a true one.

Let not the eye of a red-haired woman rest on you. (If the eye is by itself, I don't care who it belonged to, it's not resting on me. Yuk!)

Do not let the shadow of a red-headed person fall upon you. It will work you back luck.

In Donegal, if a girl is born with red hair, it is a sign there was a pig under the bed.(I have no words.)

In New Zealand, red hair is sacred, and a woman with red hair is believed to have a clear road to heaven. (Really doesn't feel like it...)

Red hair was called the "Mark of Gilgamesh" (after a mysterious figure of this name around 2600 B.C.)

Red hair was also thought to be the mark of Cain. Guess those two can fight it out then since we're all so violent.

Bees will sting redheads more. (Never, ever been stung. Bees avoid me. So do wasps and pretty much anything else that bites or stings.)

It's lucky to rub your hand on the head of a redhead (Not if you try it on me and wish to retain use of your hand. Just saying.)

Red-headed women were not allowed at the craps tables in Las Vegas; for many years they were thought to bring good luck to the gentleman that they accompanied, but ill luck to the others at the table. (Ok that one made me laugh.)

And finally some quotes;

"It is observed that the red-haired of both sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much exceed in strength and activity." Jonathan Swift - Guliver's travels

"Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead." - Lucille Ball

"If you want trouble... find yourself a redhead." - Unknown

"You'd find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair," Lucy M Montgomery - Anne of Green Gables

"Blondes are noticed but redheads are never forgotten." - Unknown

"All throughout history, from Reuben to Robbins, redheads have been recognized as a rare breed. Blondes may have more fun, brunettes may be brainier, but when it comes down to raw energy, creativity, and personality ... you just can't beat a redhead well, you can, but beware ... she'll probably beat you back!" - Redheads Unlimited

"While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats." - Mark Twain

"Gentlemen may prefer blondes, but it takes a real man to handle a redhead." - Unknown

" According to the wire, you are resting well and are being taken care of by a nurse. I hope she is beautiful and that she has red hair. I don't know why, but whenever I dream of a nurse she always has red hair. Red hair makes a man want to recover his health quickly, so that he can get on his feet and get the nurse off hers." - Groucho Marx, in a letter to his son (I say again, Well Really!)

And for anyone who doesn't speak Gaelic, the title of this blog post in English is "Red-heads Forever!"

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