Redhead Appreciation Day on September 23 reminds us of the beauty and uniqueness of red-haired people. They possess the rarest hair shade and are often associated with having a “fiery” or “hot-tempered” nature. Whether that’s true or not, we can’t deny that redheads are like rare birds of paradise, making up just four percent of the world’s population! Nicknamed gingers, carrot-tops, flame-haired, “ranga”, “bluey,” redheads can often feel like outcasts and stand out in the crowd. So if you are a redhead, or have a redhead friend or family member, today is the day to appreciate them in all their flaming glory!
History of Redhead Appreciation Day
Although natural red hair is more commonly admired now due to its distinctiveness, redheads have dealt with mixed attitudes towards them throughout history. Alternatively admired or ridiculed for the color of their crowning tresses, outlooks on red hair have always been polarized. Throughout time, redheads have been portrayed as beautiful and brave or else promiscuous, wild, hot-tempered, violent, or immoral.
Perhaps this sinful yet desirable historical interpretation of red-heads began with some religious descriptions. One of the better-known accounts is seen in Jewish mythology, detailing the appearance of Lilith, a comely demon who wreaked sensual havoc in the Garden of Eden. She was often depicted as a red-headed woman. Similarly, Judas, who infamously betrayed Jesus in the Bible, is often portrayed in medieval paintings as having flaming red hair and a crimson beard.
But let’s trace the interesting origins of red hair. Contrary to what many people assume, redheads did not originate in Scandinavia, Scotland, or Ireland, but in Central Asia around 100,000 years ago. Their coloring is due to a mutation in the MC1R gene that fails to produce sun-protective, skin-darkening eumelanin and instead causes pale skin, freckles, and red hair.
Ancient writers began forming conclusions in an attempt to rationalize red hair, often portraying them as warlike, uncivilized – yet also admirable. Aristotle described them as brave but also believed red-heads to be evil characters because their hair-shade matched that of a fox. Similarly, the Romans regarded redheads as untrustworthy, despite many Roman women prompting wig-makers to import quantities of red hair from Europe.
This suspicion of red hair continued and evolved with time. In the Middle Ages and beyond, redheads acquired even more negative connotations. Red hair became an almost demonic badge, associated with witches, vampires, and werewolves. During the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, red hair was often seen as a marker of witchcraft and magical abilities, and during witch hunts, red-haired people were often suspected and found guilty by hunters.
Now, redheads are often seen as rare and unique. In Denmark, having a red-headed child is considered an honor. The name of the country Russia means “Land of the Reds” to honor a red-headed Viking named Rurik. Only two percent of people in the U.S. have red hair. It’s time to appreciate and love redheads because they are beautiful!