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FUN HK – THE SECRET HISTORY BEHIND BARBER POLES

2015-10-30
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When you walk along Hong Kong’s busy streets, it’s easy to find wide varieties of barber shops along your way. Did you notice one common icon they share? Yes, the barber poles!

As a well-known symbol of the barber industry, it is neither a trademark nor an advertising sign. But have you wondered why almost every barber shop owns one of those? We’ve found 2 sayings that reveal its secret history – see who you find the most believable!

Saying 1: 
During World War II, when Germany was attacking the French, the German troops caught a patriotic French barber. To allow more time for his French counterparts to evacuate, he tried his best to stall for time by detouring the troops.    Later, as the Germans discovered that they were fooled, they killed the barber out of extreme rage. After the war ended, this French barber was given a state funeral, while light poles of blue, white red are affixed in front of all barber shops among France to commemorate his honorable deeds.

Saying 2: 
Speaking of red, white, blue, we immediately connect to the French national flag. But unlike the flag, the 3 colors in barber poles do not represent freedom, fairness and love. Instead, red suggests the artery; blue the vein; and white the bandages. This universal design was said to be created by a French guy in 1520. But why artery, vein & bandage? Believe it or not, before the modern medicine is fully developed, barbers also acted as part-time surgeons who performed surgical procedures such as extracting teeth, treating bone fractures, dislocation and blood-letting. That explains all the meanings behind the iconic poles.

Which one sounds more convincing to you?

Regardless of your final answer, we can be sure of one thing – no matter where we are, as long as we pay close attention to little things around us, every trip can be a new lesson!