No other color of hair is as maligned as red. Throughout the ages, people who have a slight mutation on the MC1R gene have been discriminated against, called witches, cursed and spat upon. From a psychological standpoint, I put much of the blame on a little thing I like to call jealousy. From a historical point of view, however, I think a bit of that prejudice has to fall on this guy:
April’s Ginger of the Month is none other than one of the most notorious back-stabbers in history, Judas Iscariot. The first thing that you’re probably asking yourself is, “How did I get a bruise back there?” Then, after you have re-focused back on the page you’re reading, you may think that Judas, being a Hebrew in the Middle East is not likely to have had red hair.
Oh yeah? Shows what you know.
Judas is widely believed to have been of crimson lock by scholars. Historically, Judas has often been portrayed with red hair and a red beard in paintings and murals. This was a device employed by artists to separate the betrayer from the loyal disciples. However, there may have been some truth to it. His last name is also an Aramaic translation for the word “red”, leading scholars to believe that his discerning feature created his last name. There are other beliefs as to the meaning of “Iscariot”, but we’re going with “red” here.
But let’s get down to brass tacks. There are very few names that you can address someone by that convey a more vitriolic meaning than “Judas.” According to scripture, Judas betrayed Christ to the Romans; ratted him out, sent him up the river, squeezed the toothpaste tube from the top. Everybody knows it. Besides, calling someone a Judas is more terse that screaming “Benedict Arnold” (unfortunately, also a red head. Dammit!).
Recently, the act of turning over Jesus to the Romans has been put to scrutiny and has become a point of debate among scholars. The more neutral Greek translation of the Bible terms it as “handing over” to convey that Judas merely arranged a meeting between his leader and the authority with no clear knowledge of the outcome. Some may actually interpret Jesus’ words to Judas at the time of his arrest as a command and not a rebuke. “Jesus asked him, “Friend, why are you here?” Then the other men surged forward, took hold of Jesus, and arrested him.” (Matthew 26:50, International Standard Version).
Judas’ place in history will always stand in question. Whether Judas took the silver, betrayed his master and subsequently committed suicide or whether the 12th disciple was acting along the wishes of his master in fulfilling the prophecy that had been laid out is a debate that will likely play out as long as people believe in the Bible.
Either way, this ginger is an essential cog in the development of the Western world over the last 2000 years. One could argue that without this testa rosa, for better or worse, there may not have been a crucifixion, subsequently no resurrection, hence no Christianity, and no Easter this month which would mean no Recess peanut butter cup eggs.
Judas Iscariot, though not particularly popular among the Western World unless you’re some kind of poem-spewing Goth chick or you’re hell-bent for leather, is April’s Ginger of the Month.