If there's a redhead in your life, you're probably not wondering if they're a witch, a vampire, or an alien. But beliefs about redheads historically weren't so accommodating. Legends and myths about people with red hair can be found in the ancient - and sometimes present - cultures of countries like Egypt, Germany, and Greece, among others.
The real science behind red hair is a mutation of the gene known as Melanocortin 1 Receptor, or MC1R. Red hair is a recessive trait and the rarest of all hair colors, seen in fewer than 1% of people in the world. The uniqueness of redheads can build their mystery and allure. Famous redheads include beauties like Julianne Moore and Lucille Ball, as well as influential men like Ron Howard and Prince Harry.
Clearly, any myth about redheads probably deserves a little scrutiny. Before you accuse your red-haired acquaintances of hellfire-stealing or having no soul, take into consideration these outlandish myths about redheads from history.
Redheads Are Aggressive And Hot-TemperedPhoto: Geneviève Brossard de Beaulieu / via Wikimedia Commons
Since red is often considered the color of passion, fire, and danger, it is sometimes used to associate red-haired people with tempers and sharp tongues.
A Russian proverb states, "There was never a saint with red hair." Satan is often depicted with red hair as a sign of moral degradation. Even the French view redheads as hot-tempered with the proverb, "Redheaded women are either violent or false, and usually are both."
Redheads Are More SexualPhoto: Richard Mauch / via Wikimedia Commons
Again, related to red being the color of passion and love, red hair was once thought to be the mark of moral degeneration and heightened sexual desire.
Mary Magdalene is often depicted with red hair in paintings. Even in Michelangelo’s Temptation, Eve is depicted with red hair after she is kicked out of the Garden of Eden for realizing she isn't wearing clothes.
Redheads Are On The Endangered Species List
Frequently, rumors circle the internet that redheads are in danger of extinction. The Oxford Hair Foundation has been cited several times for creating these rumors, but was found to be funded by Procter & Gamble, whose products include hair dye.
There were also rumors that climate change will kill off all redheads due to the effect more sun would have on their genes, but this story was found to have been started by a company that traces ancestries online.