10 Things You Didn’t Know About Color

Between the history of color and associations with certain shades in different cultures, color meanings and usage are fascinating to learn about. Here are 10 fun facts about colors.

1. Blue Was Once Seen as a Low-Class Color

In Ancient Rome, royalty wore white, red and black. Those in lower society wore blue. Because the color blue was associated with the working class and barbarians, it was not mainstream. Blue became more acceptable when it became the color of the Virgin Mary’s cloak in the 12th century.

2. Queen Victoria Started the White Wedding Gown Tradition

In 1840, red was the popular color of bridal gowns. Queen Victoria didn’t follow this tradition, wearing a white gown to her wedding instead. Within a few years, white wedding dresses were regarded as the best color for brides.

3. Some Languages Describe Colors and Shades Differently

Tribal African tongues and other languages describe blue and green as different shades of the same color. The Russian language specifies light and dark blue as different colors, not different shades of the same color. Many ancient languages didn’t have a word for blue.

4. Purple Was the Color of Royalty Because It Was Expensive to Obtain

Until 1856, the color purple came from snail mucus. The snails used were almost extinct, and 20,000 were required to get one ounce of purple dye. Since purple was a rare and expensive color, it was only worn by royalty. For commoners, wearing purple was a crime punishable by death.

5. Red Is the First Color a Baby Sees

Infants start to recognize the color red at two weeks old because red has the longest wavelength, which is easy to process. Babies can see the full spectrum of colors at five months.

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6. Pink Is a Calming Color

Pink suppresses anger and anxiety and makes people feel calm. For this reason, many prisons and hospitals paint their rooms pink.

7. Bulls Don’t Actually Hate Red

It’s a common misbelief that bulls hate the color red, which is why they charge the matador and the muleta. In reality, bulls target any moving object, regardless of color.

8. Green Used to Symbolize Unreliability

In the Middle Ages, green symbolized inconstancy and betrayal. Paintings with Judas often showed him wearing green clothing. This association may have come from the difficulties of making green dye. Green dye was made from plants, and it was unstable because the color would fade over time.

9. Orange Used to Have Another Name

In the 13th century, “orange” was the name of the citrus fruit, and the color was “geoluhread,” which means yellow-red. In the 16th century, Europeans started calling the fruit and the color the same name.

10. Milk Used to Look Yellow

Up to the mid-18th century, producers added lead chromate to milk to hide its blueness — a sign of watered-down dairy. This additive made milk look yellow, and people refused to buy white milk because they thought it was colored.

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