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A Spooky Story Behind The Barber’s Pole

Finding it difficult to get new ideas for a Halloween costume? Then look no further. Ever noticed a red and white striped pole displayed outside of barber shops? Yes, that nice looking spinning thing. For your information, it could be a legitimately spooky Halloween costume. Find out why!

Here is the grisly truth behind the barber’s pole.

The barbershop, as you may know, was not always the friendly, chatty social centre where men relaxed while having a shave, haircut or beard trim. Centuries ago, it was a grim and grisly place where you suffered the ministrations of the barber-surgeon who often specialised in blood-letting (besides pulling teeth, setting bones and treating wounds).

The Meaning Of Colours

The red and white pole outside would announce to passers-by that here was where you could have your blood drained. The white represented the bandages, although they would rarely have been so, given the insanitary conditions of the times. Red clearly indicates the … well, you get the picture.
 
Why a pole? Legend has it that patients held a pole in their right hand to keep the arm straight. This would be secured in place by a bandage wrapped around the arm. Voila! The inspiration for the red and white, instantly recognisable, barber’s symbol.
 
In America, the barber’s colours were red, white and blue. Not necessarily for any patriotic reason though – it’s generally believed that the blue signified the darker colour of the blood in the veins.

Leeches In A Bowl

There’s more, though not for the feint-hearted. Early barbers used leeches for blood lettings and typically kept these bloodsuckers in a metal bowl atop a post. The orb at one end of the barber’s pole is said to signify the leech bowl, and the orb at another end might represent the bowl of blood filled during the procedure.
So…Have we convinced you that dressing up as a barber pole is perfect for Halloween?
 
We understand that you might want to stay away from the barbershops until this Sweeney Todd-like story wears off.

Check out our shaving collection inspired by barber shops but giving you a chance to enjoy traditional wet shaving at home.
  
If you typically head to the barbers to get your beard groomed, you can find everything you need in our beard care collection.
 
Happy Halloween! 🎃

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