Tuesday, October 8, 2013
My husband and I recently painted our house gray. Our doors are currently white, but that’s boring, so I’ve been considering what color to paint them. While on vacation, Bill and I saw numerous churches in mid-Missouri with red doors. Now we’ve seen this before, but the abundance of these doors all in one area made me curious. The explanations for this delightful practice are numerous and varied.
1) Some say it signifies that the mortgage on the church was paid off.
2) In Medieval times, a red door on any building (not just a church) indicated a place of sanctuary. A person pursued by an enemy, lender, or even the shire reeve (sheriff) couldn’t be followed behind the red doors. The tradition continued as church leaders saw the spiritual significance.
3) The origin could be from the first Passover when the Hebrews applied lamb’s blood to the doorposts, so they would be safe from the angel of death. According to one researcher, red paint was once made of blood and buttermilk.
4) Along those same lines, red symbolizes the blood of Christ and his salvation. Church doors began to be painted red as a way of remembering the ultimate sacrifice the martyrs made for their faith.
5) Similar to the idea of sanctuary, it might have become an American tradition to paint doors red as a sign of welcome to strangers.
6) Church leaders painted the doors red so newcomers to the town could easily identify the Episcopal churches.
7) I even read an anecdotal story about Albert Einstein, who is said to have painted the door of his home red so he could tell which house was his.
Regardless of the origin, the ideas of sanctuary, safety, welcome, and finding one’s way home are pretty meaningful.
I think I’ll paint my front door red and pray my home will live up to the tradition.
What color is your front door? Does the color have any significance beyond esthetics?