Ever wondered why Barbers have red and white poles out the front of their shop? Today on the streets of Byron Bay, I paused to observe the famous “pole” and then hit google to find out why. Basically, since the dark ages priests and monks performed surgery up until the time of the Roman catholic church forbid the priests to perform such tasks. And so, Barbers were then expected to perform bloodletting and other medical procedures: teeth extraction, cupping, leeching, setting breaks and other minor surgeries all happened at the Barbershop. Even amputation!
So , why the pole? Well, bloodletting was the most popular.The client grabbed hold of a white rod with a firm grip whilst a blade was used to make them bleed into a bowl. After this the bandages came out and the dirty ones were then washed and hung out to dry on the pole outside.Thats where the red and white pole comes in.
Some poles have blue in them which is said to represent the veins. Others propose that the blue in the USA it represents the national colours. But be warned, in parts of Asia, a pole like this can have a double meaning and sometimes represent a Brothel.I for one am glad things have changed and “the surgeon” is now separate from “the Barber’s” chair. A chair that should nurture your health, yes; but in a way that makes you smile and leaves you unscarred. A cool piece of history hey? No wonder i dream of one day being a nurse. love Ally X