Weekly Writing Challenge: Russian Red

The singer

Recently I have discovered a very lovely Spanish Indie singer called Russian Red, who served as an inspiration for this post. I must also add that I absolutely fell in love with her last album Fuerteventura. You may wonder why she chose her artistic name to be Russian Red, when in fact she has nothing to do with Russia. Well, the explanation is real simple. Russian Red is the name of the artist’s favorite lipstick – an embodiment of attitude and passion. This is how I discovered a very popular lipstick shade, Russian Red, by M.A.C. Cosmetics, used by many celeb stars such as Gwen Stefani, Scarlett Johansson, Dita Von Teese, Christina Aguilera, and Kim Kardashian, who are known for their red luscious lips. I must agree that it is a gorgeous lip color for these ladies, if they wish to call attention. The color red is an attention-catcher and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element, in this case…their lips.

However, I must inform you that I’m much of a thinker, and I like analyzing things. Therefore, there is one question rising in my teenage head. Why Russian, why Red? Why is Russia so often associated with the color red? Why is the color red so often associated with Russia? I obviously know that Russia doesn’t own this color. That’s a fact. Colors are universal. Nevertheless, there is a high presence of the color red in the Russian culture. Visually stunning, it can be seen in many symbols, decorations, folk costumes, and even the Red Square!

I believe it is now topic related to reveal the Russian word for the color red, krasnij. It is also crucial to note that in Old Russian the word krasnij actually meant something completely different. It meant beautiful. The Russian root ‘kras’ means beauty. The original name of the Red Square, is Krasnaya Ploschad literally translating as Beautiful Square. Yes, in fact, the color red has nothing to do with the naming of the square. They named it after its beauty, not its color. Moreover, in the beginning, the Red Square was never red. It was originally built in wood, afterwards destroyed by a Mongol invasion, rebuilt in white brick, destroyed another time, and finally rebuilt in red brick.

There are still some expressions that retain the old meaning of the word “red”, for example krasna devitsa, or beautiful girl. Nowadays, krasnij is just another color, but I think most Russians consider it to be the epitome of beauty. Red is beautiful. I mean, seriously guys, why did you think the background of my blog is red? Easy stuff: it’s beautiful, hot (because I’m the writer), exciting, powerful, and alive…. Admit it; you just can’t stop looking at it. I know who you are. We all know who you are.

So, what is it that gives color a meaning? Us, humans, like to associate colors with physical things and emotions. The other day, I took the freedom to conduct a poll in the Polls & Surveys section of Yahoo Answers that went like this “What does the color RED make you think of?” To which I got many different answers. Seduction, seductive blood, hell, Red Oyster from Flavor of Love, fire engine nee-aw nee-aw, anger, murder, love, lust, chocolate, lingerie, China, communism, bra, life, violence, gore, a sandwich. My personal favorite was seductive blood, nothing beats that.

All jokes aside, red is a very strong color, conveying feelings such as passion, anger, even embarrassment or shame. It summons a range of very contrasting emotions, from passionate love to violence and warfare. Studies show that red can have a physical effect, increasing the rate of respiration and even raising blood pressure! Interesting, huh?

Did you know that in Eastern cultures when a stock is increasing in value the arrow used to portray the growth is red? Contrastingly, in the Western world we use red to portray financial loss, because for us red screams “Danger!” and “Warning!” On the other hand, in the Chinese culture, red is the color of happiness, prosperity, and good luck.

To wrap up, red is a symbolic color of love and romance, courage and passion in the West, despite its many different connotations and allusions. Now you also know that, in Russia, red signifies beauty, and no, not Soviet Russia.

A Splash of Color

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