In some cultures, the color of a home’s front door has significant meaning. Americans should think about adopting one meaning in particular.
The History of Red Doors
A red front door has multiple meanings. In biblical times, Hebrews protected their first-born son by marking their door with the blood of a lamb (Passover). Some Catholic churches have painted their front doors red to symbolize the Blood of Christ.
Many Chinese consider red to symbolize abundance and fortune so some paint their doors red and apply a fresh coat at the beginning of each new year. In Feng Shui, the front door (or “Mouth of Chi” where the energy enters the house) would be painted red to create a welcoming energy.
In America, a red front door in colonial times was a sign of welcome. In the Underground Railroad, which was neither underground or a railroad, a red door symbolized a safe haven. Later, when door-to-door salesmen plied their wares, a red door came to mean “stop” or “no sale” to the salesmen.
Doing It Differently
Americans would do well to borrow the meaning of a red front door from Scotland. The Scots paint their front doors red when they’ve paid off their house. Though it can be regarded as a social status symbol, it’s a thoughtful way to encourage home ownership and financial responsibility.
The end-of-the-year holiday season is tough for many because it brings an expectation of gift giving, charity and expenses that aren’t in the household budget. We’d probably all be happier and healthier if we celebrated milestones like paying off our homes and painting the front door red… and helping others do the same.
Changing our focus from the exchange of material goods to more productive priorities like paying off our homes will take some creativity. You might consider making a pact within your family to dedicate the money you’d spend on gifts to paying off debts instead. It may not give you the immediate gratification of giving|receiving a gift though that gratification is short lived.
Is this Ebenezer Scrooge’s guide to fiscal responsibility? Maybe, though you can’t deny it’s an important point.
As always, please share your thoughts and questions by using the form below. Would you paint your front door red?
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Image by Amanda Halprin used under a creative commons license.