Tuesday, November 1, 2011
There's a story behind that.
Back in the day, barbers used to perform medical procedures, including tooth extractions and bloodletting services. Apparently, they would hang the bloody bandages on a pole outside to dry and the wind would wrap the bandages around the pole. Yes, disturbing, but we’re talking the Middle Ages here. The pole represents the staff that was used for the patient to grip to encourage blood flow. The color red is symbolic for arterial blood, blue represents venous blood and the white symbolizes the bandages. It’s also possible that the blue was added when the signs were used in the United States, to honor the national colors. It's interesting how universal and immediately recognizable this design has become over many centuries in many cultures.
But a note of caution: If you’re in certain parts of Asia, the barber's pole design could be used to advertise and disguise a completely different type of business establishment, but I’ll steer clear of that story.