The red carpet is always whipped out for special occasions that involve royalty or celebrities walking on it for VIP events and at luxury casinos (although there’s a bit less of that in the world of online casinos!). But have you ever wondered why the red carpet is used for these special events and where the idea of using one originated? This article will explore the origins of the first use of the red carpet and reveal why it features at modern-day VIP events.
It’s really interesting to note that the earliest use and reference to a red carpet can be traced back to Ancient Greece in 458 BC. It was first seen in Aeschylus’ play, Agamemnon. In the play, the King’s vengeful wife, Clytemnestra, prepares for her husband’s glorious and triumphant welcome home from the Trojan War. In Greek mythology, red was the colour resigned for the gods, and Clytemnestra wanted to show that her husband was arrogant by getting him to walk on the red-dyed carpet. The myths and legends of Ancient Greece live on today and have actually spawned an entire genre of online slots, with available titles including Rise of Olympus and Mighty Zeus.
After the red-carpet moment was enshrined in a Greek tragedy, the colour red began to show up in paintings to portray wealth and royalty. Scholars deem the iconic shade as being more important than the carpet itself – but either way, it set off a custom that would spread across time and continents.
Red has been the colour of royalty for ages. Not only that, but toward the end of the 1200s, the Pope at the time announced that only cardinals (the highest-ranking men of the Catholic church) could wear red. Meanwhile, over on another continent, South America, the Aztec and Inca cultures also considered red a colour that should only be worn by the elite.
In 16th-century Central and South America, red dye was made by crushing female cochineal insects. Spanish settlers took this red dye and sold it across Europe; it soon became a valuable commodity that saw the emergence of competitors in the red-dye market. In addition to the red dye, the carpets were hand-woven, which also made them an expensive commodity. One can see how the “red carpet” had become such a symbol of exclusivity!
When it arrived, the Industrial Revolution eased the process of making red carpets by creating synthetic chemical dye and automated the process of carpet weaving, yet its symbolism remained.
In 1902, the first rail service between New York City and Chicago opened in the US. The New York Central Railroad laid out a red carpet at New York’s majestic Grand Central Station to direct passengers to their carriages. Once passengers were on the train, they received luxury treatment, which cemented the feeling of a special occasion.
This custom became known as the “red-carpet treatment”, and its ability to make guests feel they are part of an elite has stood the test of time, preserving the red carpet’s significance over so many ages in so many civilisations and cultures around the world. Wouldn’t many of us want to experience some of that “treatment”, if given the opportunity?