I love fairy tales. Not only are the stories interesting, often ending with a ‘moral of the story,’ but most of the time they are published in beautifully-illustrated books. One of my favorite tales is that of Little Red Riding Hood, first written by Charles Perrault at the end of the 17th century. The story tells of a girl who travels through a forest to visit her grandmother and meets a horrible hungry wolf who ends up eating both the grandmother and the girl. All through the story the girl is wearing a Red riding hood. As with many tales, this one has a meaning. The wolf symbolizes how dangerous it may be to talk to strangers. The story also alerts readers to the danger of literal attacks by wolves, who were numerous at the time of Charles Perrault. However, many more hidden meanings are attributed to the Red color of the riding hood.
Some say that the Red riding hood represents the Sun eaten by the Wolf – the Night and stands for day and night cycles. In one of the versions of the story, when the girls survives, after being cut out from the wolf’s belly by the hunters who pass by the grandmother’s house, the act of liberation stands for the Dawn, which liberates the Sun from the Night. Others say that the Red color may indicate the change of seasons, with the girl wearing bright red colors in spring instead of flowers. Many insist that the meaning can also be sexual. The Red stands for the girl becoming mature (reaching puberty) and/or sexual awakening (menstruation), during which she leaves her home to start an independent life. So, from sun to blood, the tale has many hidden currents which have been interpreted differently by psychologists, feminists and Charles Perrault himself. One thing is sure – as a color, Red has many interesting meanings and symbols.