1. Redheads are witches. From the 1400s through the 1700s, red-haired women deemed to be witches were murdered by the thousands. They were often stripped and searched for “the mark of the devil,” which could be anything from a birthmark to an odd freckle. So, obviously, a redhead would have had plenty of marks for them to choose from. During the Spanish Inquisition, red hair was the sign of a witch who had stolen hell’s fire, and ironically, burning them at the stake was the only way to solve the problem.
2. Redheads turn into vampires when we die. The ancient Greeks actually believed this to be true. I’m curious as to what they would have done to resolve this issue, since killing us, as they did with the witches, would only bring this problem to fruition. Sorry, but other than the fact that redheads and vampires both try to avoid the sun, this myth is completely false.
3. Redheads are unlucky. British superstition says that on New Year’s Day if the first call you receive is from a redhead, you will have bad luck all year long. Ancient Egyptians actually considered redheads to be so unlucky that they offered them as sacrifices, hoping to end their streak of bad luck. On the other hand, the ancient Romans actually considered red hair to be lucky–in fact, redheaded slaves were the most sought after. Come on, everyone! We’re less than 2% of the population! We’re basically the four-leaf clovers of humans! And everyone knows four-leaf clovers bring good luck.
4. Redheads have no soul. I don’t know, maybe this is connected to the witches and vampires thing, but this is another myth that has absolutely no foundation, and is more a taunt for bullies to use than representative of any truth. We may have South Park‘s “Ginger Kids” episode to thank for this. Another variation of this myth is that gingers steal souls. Supposedly every freckle is representative of a soul we’ve stolen. So which is it? We have no soul, or we have hundreds of them? Get it right.
5. Redheads have fiery tempers. There is no actual research to defend the myth that redheads have more volatile tempers than other hair colors. The color red is often associated with danger and passion, so maybe that is how this myth came to be, but redheads are as diverse as anyone else, and we all have our own unique temperaments. However, if I have to hear one more person tell me that I have no soul, I’m definitely going to start seeing red.
6. Bees sting redheads more often. Again, there is no scientific research to defend this myth, unless you consider my redheaded grandmother’s opinion to be as valid as scientific research. Maybe the bees think our red hair looks more like a flower than other hair colors? I have no idea, but for now, this myth will remain just that–a myth.
7. Redheads bruise more easily. Scientists have found no evidence that this is true either. It’s possible that bruises just appear more vibrantly on redheads due to our pale skin. Or, it’s possible that I’m just a little clumsier than the average person!
8. The blood of a redheaded man creates gold paint. As absurd as it may sound, a medieval author, Theophilus Presbyter, insisted that the blood of a redheaded man was an essential ingredient in creating a certain color of paint–Spanish gold. Alright, I get that red hair can look golden, but seriously? Our blood is the same color as everyone else’s blood! I wonder if he also used blonde blood for yellow paint and brunette blood for brown?
9. Redheads are mutants. Okay, this one is actually true, but not in the X-Men, super-mutant way everyone is thinking. Natural red hair is caused by a series of genetic mutations in the MC1R gene. These mutations are said to cause not only red hair but also pale skin and hypersensitivity. So, you see, it’s a totally different kind of mutation than a superhero, because most superhero’s skin is… well, covered head to toe in spandex, so probably pretty pale… But also superheroes like Superman, Daredevil, or Spiderman have actual powers! And usually, these powers are… derived from some sort of heightened sensitivity… Okay, wait a second…
10. Redheads are going extinct. ENOUGH ALREADY! We’re rare, yes, but we’re not going extinct. Let’s have a quick lesson in genetics. Red hair is a recessive trait, which means it only occurs when both parents carry the red hair gene. The parents don’t need to have red hair themselves, but if they carry the gene for it, there is a 25% chance their child will have red hair. These odds do not suggest extinction. For example, in Ireland, only 10% of the population actually has red hair, but 40% of the population carries the gene for it. The gene can lay dormant for generations, but when two gene-carriers reproduce, they have a decent chance of creating a redhead. So, unless everyone carrying the trait fails to reproduce, WE’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE!
So, fellow redheads, please join me in celebrating Love Your Red Hair Day by rejoicing in the debunking of all these ridiculous myths. It feels good to be living in a new era where our red hair is admired and respected rather than ridiculed and feared.
And today of all days, let’s Rock it like a Redhead!