From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Friday, October 9, 2015

Redheads: Myths and facts

A Red-haired Judas   (Photo by Adercilla) 
Whereas Eve was at first depicted as a blonde (at St. Paul’s in London), or as a brunette (in Michelangelo’s Temptation), she was then shown with flaming red locks after the Fall.

Perhaps because it is a genetic rarity (in “only four percent of people”), and folks tend to fear that which is different from the norm, red hair has been interpreted as a sign of the devil. Judas, for example, is often portrayed with red hair and/or beard. reports that within Germanic culture from 1485 to 1784 AD, “thousands of suspected witches were nearly always stripped and searched for ‘marks of the devil.’”  Such “marks” included freckles.

Nevertheless, some of history’s greatest achievers have been redheads.  This fabled list includes Winston Churchill, Galileo Galilei, Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickinson, Sarah Bernhardt, Mark Twain, Florence Nightingale, Antonio Vivaldi, Ulysses S. Grant, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Andrew Jackson, William Tecumseh Sherman and George Washington.

The gene responsible for red hair is known as melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), and is “found on the 16th chromosome.”  In the United States, natural redheads form only 2 percent of the population.  Scotland tops the world’s list with 13 percent, and Ireland is a close second with 10 percent.


Copyright October 9, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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