In the past red has signified martyrdom for faith. In dress or costume it meant divine love. In Heraldry, the art or science of having to do with coats of arms, red was called gules and that probably came from the Old English meaning the mouth or jaws. The reference is due probably to the color of the open jaws or reddish. In Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens there is a line that reads: “With man’s blood paint the ground, gules, gules.”
Yeats once wrote that ” Red is the colour of magic in every country, and has been so from the vary earliest times., The caps of fairies and musicians are well-neigh always red.”
Today the color red has taken on the meaning of revolution and radicalism. Tennyson in Guinevere wrote: ” Red ruin, and the breaking up of laws”. The Communists of the old Soviet Union were called “reds” There are the Red Chinese and a terrorists group who called themselves the “Red Brigade”.
There are a number of expressions we use every day that have the word red in them.
If you are “in the red” it generally means you’re overdrawn at the bank or your business is running at a loss. “Not a red cent” means no money at all and refers to the copper penny which looks reddish.
The expression “Red Tape” may have introduced by Charles Dickens. It means rigid adherence to rules and regulations. In the old days lawyers and government officials used to tie their papers together with red ribbon tape. And, of course, there is “seeing red”, anger. Caught “red handed” In the act of a crime and “red-eye” a cheap whiskey. Oh yes…I hope you have a “red letter day”. It’s supposed to be lucky.