is the color of luck and happiness, weddings, and Chinese New Year.
So I was rather surprised when my tutee told me that it’s also the color for suicides. I discovered this because I was wearing all red one day and waiting to meet him by the dry well that would be a fountain if someone turned it on instead of just a little depression with rocks and lights in it. Sipping from my little boxed juice, I was accosted by a greying gentleman who began to flatter me and ask for my contact information. He does get the metaphorical points for the ability to try to pick me up in English. He was bespectacled and apparently lounging about during the afternoon at the park since he is a retiree with heart difficulties. When my tutee arrived, the poor fellow was interrogated as to whether he was my boyfriend (I’m sure my face was red to match the rest of me at that point), and I bid the farewell as we carefully casually made our way out of the park.
According to my tutee, perhaps a reason for the gentleman’s odd attempt at romance was due to the tradition that women who wanted to create strong vengeful ghosts would don red before their suicides. (An extensive google search found this interesting article which has a paragraph way down about red-dressed suicides). So in an odd logical leap, perhaps he was only chatting me up because he was worried about me dunking myself in the not deep, not watered well and doing some mean haunting.
Personally, I wear red as a pick-me up. I decided it was my favorite color after being undecided (evading the favorite color question in middle school with “iridescence”– why, yes, I’m a dork!) for a very long time.
But although it is the adopted color of Republicans (it is also the adopted color of Communists, so there’s always a flip-side), I love red.
Red roses stood for love triumphant in Victorian flower symbolism as Anne’s House of Dreams tells me. (This rose is from my grandmother’s garden).
I got into trouble for the predominance of red in my wardrobe (which isn’t really completely my fault, as a chunk of my clothes were thoughtful gifts from aunts with good taste who early on realized my cousin liked blue, so I got the red stuff) when I came to Taiwan for a brief visit once. We were headed to my uncle’s funeral, and I had a black dress for the funeral itself, but had no idea that there was mourning clothing involved outside of it for family visits that required pale or dark clothes. Traditional funeral wear is pure white, but I guess western influence having bleached brides white from the traditional red, has darkened mourners into black for funerals. So I ended up on an emergency visit to a boutique before visiting the rest of the family, after sending the bit of it I was staying with into slight shock when I trotted into breakfast with a red shirt on. Fortunately, this being Taiwan, I was able to get a white shirt off the rack that fit instead of tented on me in five minutes.
Anyway, I only mention red because I was once again wearing complete red trying to liven myself up after a mosquito-disturbed slumber the other night. My class was discussing a dream Buck the dog has in Call of the Wild, when one of the boys (teaching middle school age children has reminded me why I was so happy to grow out of middle school) started joking about it. I, in my over-tired trying-too-much state, said something like it was certainly NOT that sort of a dream, going into a literary comparison with the boy’s dream in The Giver. Then there was laughter all around because all the boys remembered that particular incident in the book, and none of the girls did. I ended up hiding behind a book laughing in spite of myself, and asking if I was red. One of my students said, “Yup, your shirt certainly is!”
This article has more info about red and Chinese culture.