Monday, November 24, 2014

Jesus Was An Orange

Following on from my last post I had a look into oranges. Some interesting stuff. Firstly it turns out that oranges have been associated with Jesus. According to Wikipedia in some countries blood oranges were seen as a symbol of the death of Jesus.

There's also the tradition of Christingle where children decorate an orange with a red ribbon and a candle, to symbolise Jesus and his love for the world. The red ribbon supposedly represents the blood of Jesus and the candle represents Jesus as the light of the world. Four cocktail sticks are also pushed into the orange with dried fruit on the ends, representing the four seasons, although that seems more suggestive of a cross to my eyes. Maybe it was similar to the Rosicrucian Rosy-Cross, only in this case with an orange in substitute of the rose. An Orange-Cross.

I remember being forced to make one of these Christingle oranges as a child and thinking "what da fuck?! why are we doing this?" but looking back it seems quite interesting and worthwhile that I did it. It's only took me twenty years to realise that though.

The name Christingle is quite interesting too. According to Wiki it's from the German Christkindl - meaning Christ child. Kind obviously meaning child in German. However, my immediate sense of it was fire. Kindle as in kindle a fire, or as in candle. Kindle and candle are probably the same word anyway. Vowels are interchangeable and the C and the K are pronounced the same, so it's easy to see how candle could be pronounced kindle and vice versa (just as red and rud, as in ruddy, are no doubt the same word, just with different vowel spellings).

The idea that vowels are interchangeable might seem strange at first and a bit of a stretch, but you've just got to imagine how different people with different accents might pronounce the same word differently just to see how true this is. For example, take the word garden. Someone from Newcastle with a Geordie accent may pronounce this word to sound more like gorden, the A becoming an O sound. Whereas someone with a more southern accent may pronounce the exact same word as gerden.

When you look at language like this you realise that consonants are like the hard skeleton of words and that vowels are more like the soft fleshy tissue. When words were first put down into written language variations in speech were no doubt reflected as people simply spelled things phonetically as they spoke them. There was no standardised way of spelling and this would've led to many words being duplicated or rendered in different ways. Over time the common origin of these words would then become obscured.

Going back to Christingle though another thing which lends a little weight to the idea that kindl is candle, is the fact that the word ingle is said to come from the Gaelic word aingeal meaning fire or fireplace. (The word angel also comes to mind actually). Christ-candle would also make more sense due to the fact that it describes what it actually is - a candle symbolising Christ.

In other posts on this blog I've mentioned the relationship between the Pumpkin, red hair and the Protestant religion. It seems like we're looking at a similar thing with the orange here. The Halloween pumpkin is a round, orange vegetable with a candle stuck inside. The Christingle orange is a round, orange fruit with a candle stuck on top. Maybe they both share a common origin.

On the Wikipedia page it states that Christingle began with the Moravian Church and dates from 1747 when a bishop named Johannes de Watteville created the ritual in order to explain the meaning of Christ to children. However, I would suspect that maybe it has deeper origins. The Moravian Church was supposedly the very first Protestant church, so maybe it goes back to the heart of the Protestant movement.

On a final note regarding oranges, when looking up the etymology of the word I found that it originally came from the Sanskrit word for orange tree - nāraṅga, via Persia (nārang) and Arabia (nāranj). It eventually reached us via the Old French orenge, which they got via the Old Provençal auranja. However, looking at the word auranja I wondered if maybe it was confluent with the word aura, as in halo. Maybe the orange, like the pumpkin, was seen as a symbol of the halo around the head of Christ and the other saints. Or being an orange ball, as symbolic of the sun itself, which in turn brings us back to the son Jesus.

Maybe red (and/or blond) hair was seen in a similar light, as a physical symbol of something spiritual.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

William of Orange and Symbolic Red Hair

For a while now I've been looking for evidence linking the orange of William of Orange (and the Protestant movement in general) to the colour orange as in red hair. Not so much that William of Orange had red hair, as I don't think he did, but more that there was at some point a symbolic relationship between red hair and reformation in northern Europe. In a nutshell I've speculated that red hair became a totemic symbol of Protestantism due to the disproportionate number of redheads on the Protestant side.

Anyway, I've found a little more evidence in the last few days. I came across a book on Google Books concerning the history of England from the Revolution to the Accession of King George III. See link:

It was published in 1744 and contained a list of medals commemorating William and Mary, along with illustrations. Two were of interest.

1. The first is a satirical medal struck by his detractors. One side shows the bust of William labelling him 'Tyrant', the other depicts him as the Biblical figure Absalom. The accompanying text in the book states;
"[H]e is represented under the figure of Absalom, hanging by his red hair (in allusion to the name of Orange) to an oak-tree[.]"
I'm not totally sure how the hair colour would be apparent on a metal medal, but I'll take his word for it.

2. The second medal is much more favourable to William. This one shows him getting one over on the French :) He's likened to a red-haired fox;
"A cock and some hens (the emblems of the French King and the ladies he had taken with him to the camp) flying before a fox, the red hair of which represents the prince of Orange, King of Great Britain."

This all seems like a clear link between red hair, William and revolution, etc.

The symbol of an orange tree kept being used on these medals as well. It's kind of an obvious symbol to use for a guy called William of Orange I guess, but still it seems like something worth looking into a little bit more.

Many of the medals showed an orange tree replacing an oak tree, representing William of Orange supplanting the Stuart Kings. The oak tree became a symbol of the Stuarts supposedly because Charles II hid in an oak tree to escape Oliver Cromwell's army. Oliver Cromwell of course had red hair, as may be remembered from over posts on this topic.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bog Bodies and Russian Mummies

I've recently been reading up on bog bodies as I've decided to finally start writing a book about red hair and thought I better check to see if it was true that many of the bog bodies so far discovered have had red haired. The book will probably just be a compilation of the info on the website, plus what's on this blog, re-wrote in a readable style (hopefully) with some of my own musings thrown in the mix.

It turns out some of the bog bodies do/did have red hair, but by no means is it a majority of them. The issue also seems to be complicated by the fact that the conditions in the bogs can remove dark pigments in hair making it appear more red than it would've originally been.

The two most noted red-haired bog bodies I've came across so far are Yde Girl and Neu Versen Man. Neu Versen Man is also known as Roter Franz meaning Red Franz in English - so called because of his red hair. Yde Girl is the bog body of a teenage girl who had reddish blonde hair. Interestingly, one side of her hair was thought to have been shaved off before she died - although it's been suggested that this lack of hair may be due to the way the body decayed, with one side of the head being more exposed to oxygen than the other.

I also came across this interesting article while I was searching. It concerns mummies rather than bog bodies and tells of medieval bodies found clad in copper masks in Siberia.
"The best preserved mummy was a red-haired man found in a wooden sarcophagus. He was covered chest to foot in copper plate and was laid to rest with an iron hatchet, furs and a bronze head buckle depicting a bear."

Cool (:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Simon de Montfort, Albigensians and Red Hair

Last night I came across an account of the death of Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, that stated he had red hair.
It is in Toulouse that the commander Simon de Montfort - known as "The butcher of Occitanie", or "The Crusade Lion" (depending on the side!)- finds his end his skull crushed in 1218 by a catapulted stone thrown by the women of the city (he was recognized by his distinct red hair!!).
De Montfort was one of the leaders of the Albigensian Crusade and was renowned for his cruelty. One report stated that he had the eyes gouged out of the prisoners he'd captured at the sacking of one village and then led them to the next village as a warning to its inhabitants. He left one prisoner with one good eye to lead the mutilated multitude. He was a bad ginger person.

Incidentally, his son was the famed Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester who led the rebellion against Henry III during the Second Barons' War. He is lauded as one of the initiators of English parliamentary democracy as he called parliaments during his de facto rule of England. These parliaments stripped the King of his absolute power and included ordinary townsfolk. Quite a difference between father and son it would seem. However, further down his Wikipedia page it states that he expelled the Jewish community from his lands in 1231 - banishing them "in my time or in the time of any of my heirs to the end of the world". So probably not that nice in person.

I couldn't find any reference to his hair colour, but I guess if his father was a redhead there's a possibility that he may have been as well.

While reading up on this period I came across another red 'un though. Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester was known as the red earl, apparently because of his bright red hair. He was a powerful English noble prominent during the period. Sadly, his Wikipedia entry likewise includes this statement;
In April 1264, Gilbert de Clare led the massacre of the Jews at Canterbury, as Simon de Montfort had done in Leicester.
Not exactly poster boys for red hair. I think I'll have to create a bad boy section on my website to fit these guys in :(