The Rush of Red

In every spoken language, red is the first color repeated after black or white (Eiseman 15). Red embodies excitement and passion, both positively and negatively, and is often nicknamed “the dynamo” because it has the greatest emotional impact.

One of the oldest associations for red is blood, life’s sustenance. In Chinese, the word for blood-red is older than the word for red. (Color 186). Red is the color that triggers the “fight or flight” intuition in animals due to this association with blood.

Tied with this inbred reaction is the physical effect that the color has on the body. The pituitary gland springs into action, releasing the hormone epinephrine, which causes rapid breathing, increases in blood pressure and pulse rate, and the flow of adrenaline. Adrenaline is released into the bloodstream, quickening the heart rate for natural protection and alertness (Eiseman 19). Aptly named, the Red Planet, Mars, comes from the Roman god of war.

Red holds its place in culture as well, best shown in its prominence during Valentine’s Day, the holiday for lovers, and the flushed face of an angry or embarrassed man. Seen as the sexiest of all colors, perhaps because of its triggers to adrenaline, red excites and imbues passion in people. A red car, a red dress and even a red (()) can turn a person on—all in different ways, of course.

Whether it stems from the consequences of passion or not, red also speaks of sin, or immoral actions. In Eastern scripture, although Buddha’s color was yellow or gold (read “Yellow” to understand why), he wore red robes when he pondered over the vicissitudes of man (Color whaaa). In the famous literature ”The Scarlet Letter,” the author Nathaniel Hawthorne depicts the common practices of societies during *that time period,* when red letters emblazoned the chest of a sinner who confessed their adulteries.

Activists of the Bulgarian Red Cross demonstrate how to use condoms to young passersby in downtown Sofia, Bulgaria on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005. Bulgaria marks this year's World AIDS Day with information campaigns across the country, part of a nationwide initiative for HIV/AIDS prevention as a new report showed schoolchildren are among the latest cases of HIV/AIDS recorded. (AP Photo/Dimitar Deinov)