11 Totally Unfounded Things People Believed About Redheads

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. 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

  • Redheads Are Human-Alien Hybrids

    Redheads Are Human-Alien Hybrids
    Photo: John Lavery / via Wikimedia Commons

    Some conspiracy theorists believe redheads are actually the result of aliens breeding with humans.

    Their evidence includes the existence of many red-haired kings and queens and a supposed alien race known as Lyrans which are said to have red hair, fair skin, and light-colored eyes. 

  • Redheads Become Vampires When They Pass

    Redheads Become Vampires When They Pass
    Photo: Frederick Sandys / via Wikimedia Commons

    Despite the fact that Achilles, Helen of Troy, and Aphrodite were all said to have red hair, Greek mythology supports the belief that red-haired people turn into vampires after they pass.

    While none have surfaced as vampires, it is true that redheads need to take more care around the sun since the pigment pheomelanin found in red hair makes them more susceptible to melanoma

  • Red-Haired People Originated In Atlantis

    Red-Haired People Originated In Atlantis
    Photo: Federico Zandomeneghi / via Wikimedia Commons

    Red-haired mummies have been found in many different parts of the world, including Egypt and Peru. Some theorize redheads expanded across the globe after residents left Atlantis and carried on their traditions in Egypt, Turtle Island, and Easter Island. 

    There is also a legend about Prince Idon of Mu, supposedly the first redhead. It is said that his red hair was the result of seeing a sunset in Atlantis. 

  • Redheads Were Conceived During Menstruation

    Redheads Were Conceived During Menstruation
    Photo: Thomas Benjamin Kennington / via Wikimedia Commons

    Redheads were thought by some to have been conceived during "unclean" sex - basically, having intercourse during that time of the month.

    This belief was primarily held by people back in the Middle Ages, but some unfortunate redheads still suffer taunts based on this connection. 

  • The Ashes Of Redheads Burned Alive Fertilize Fields

    In the early 20th century, Scottish anthropologist and folklorist James Frazer's book The Golden Bough stated that red-haired men in ancient Egypt were burned alive as sacrifices for the god Osiris. Their ashes were then scattered across the fields using winnowing-fans.

    He suggests that Egyptians did this to fertilize their fields and to increase their harvest or possibly to make the corn turn red or golden as it grew.

  • Redheaded Women Are Witches

    Redheaded Women Are Witches
    Photo: Franz von Stuck / via Wikimedia Commons

    In Medieval Christian Europe, red hair was often associated with witches and witchcraft. 

    Between 1500-1660, it's believed that as many as 80,000 suspected witches were slain in Europe during a period of extreme witch hysteria.