Red vs. Blue

As a native Utahan, I gingerly and delicately approach one of the most divisive, passionate, and explosive topics that exists: “Which color are you”? You see, this question affects me nearly on a daily basis, and in every social and religious aspect of my life. For some reason, I continually get asked if I hate red. I don’t know if the question addresses the actual color, a school with said color, or a larger sociopolitical stigma that reaches fevered pitches generally during fall months. So before I analyze the meanings, sub-meanings, and meanness woven into meanings and sub-meanings, I want to analyze the concepts that make this question of color so important.

According to Henry Dreyfus, Japanese, in contrast with Westerners, grasp colors on an intuitively horizontal plane, and pay little heed to the influences of light. Colors whether intense of soft, are identified not so much on the basis of reflected light or shadow, but in terms of the meaning or feeling associated with them. The adjectives used to describe colors, like iki (sophisticated or chic), shibui (subdued or restrained), or hannari (gay or mirthful), tend to be those that stress feelings rather than the values of colors in relation to each other.

For some reason, within a school rivalry, we have established feelings and stereotypes based on red and blue. The formal symbolism of red and blue has been defined as the following.

Red can symbolize many things; from blood, to love, to infatuation. Basically red symbolizes strong emotions, or things of strong emotions rather than intellectual ideas. For example, red can symbolize excitement, energy, speed, strength, danger, passion, and aggression. My teenage daughter also pointed out that red is associated with food, as almost every restaurant/fast food establishment has red in the logo and color scheme.

According to Henry Dreyfus, it is popularly felt that red, the color of blood and fire, represents life and vitality. Red also signifies the color of the sun: a symbol of energy, radiating its vitalizing life-force into human beings. Red is also looked upon as a sensual color, and can be associated with man’s most profound urges and impulses. Ironically, red cats symbolize bad luck.


Blue is the color of the Virgin Mary, and is associated with girls who have similar pure qualities. In addition, it is the color of water and the sea, with all the symbolic references already discussed for that element – that is, blue usually indicates life, purity, etc., just as water does.

Blue can also symbolize peace, calm, stability, security, loyalty, sky, water, cold, technology, and depression.


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