This is going to be a series of articles describing the symbolism of colors in Polish folklore. Red seems to me to be an obvious choice for a start of the series – it’s among the most magickal colors, popular for example in regional clothing, protective charms and jewellery.
First, a bit of vocabulary and related etymology facts for the curious, you can skip these few points to go to the text below right away:
- red (noun): czerwień
- adjectives: (she) czerwona, (he) czerwony, (it) czerwone [full declension here at wiktionary]
- etymology: derived from czerw (larva, maggot, brood), precisely from Polish cochineal, a scale insect that used to be the main source for crimson dye in parts parts of Eurasia, and was one of main export products of the Kingdom of Poland in 15th and 16th centuries
- the word “czerw” itself came from from Proto-Slavic *čьrvь, that in turn came from Proto-Indo-European *kʷr̥mis meaning a worm [wictionary]
- the Polish cochineal gave also the name for the Polish name of June: czerwiec. It is the month when the Polish cochineals used to be harvested for the dye, before reaching maturity.
- in the old-Polish language the color red was also called krasny