Saturday, November 6, 2010


I was watching an Abbot and Costello movie not too long ago, and in it Costello was attempting at getting his barber license. Now, today, you generally go to barber shops to get haircuts, no? But in the movie, dating back to the 1940s, Costello was actually shaving the person. And it's not uncommon for barber shops today to offer a shave to their male customers, but it's certainly not common. This got me thinking: what if barber shops were originally meant for shaving purposes instead of cutting hair? Can I get to the bottom of this.

Well, ask yourself what the word 'barber' sounds like? Barbasol. Shaving cream. After looking it up a bit I found that, indeed, a barber is someone who shaves and/or cuts hair. The Latin word for 'beard' is actually 'BARBA', very similar to our barbers today. In our modern day, with the common use of 'safety razors', and the decreasing prevalence of beards, many barbers just specialize in cutting men's hair.

But another interesting point I found was that all the way back in medieval times, barbers were also used for surgery and dentistry. Pretty disgusting to imagine, right? Well, it's the truth. They'd pull teeth, let blood, lance boils, and even stick leeches on you to suck blood.

It's during these medieval times that the origin of the barbers' pole takes it's shape. You know, the winding white pole with the red and the (occasional) blue stripe, that twists so as to make it seem like the pole is moving upwards? Well, after a barber would do their surgeries or pulled out teeth, they would hang the bandages out to dry and the wind would make the bandage twist, red and white together. This became the symbol as to where you could find a barber. It stuck, and now it's one of those Strongly Entrenched Things!


I promised every day, no? It's still 8 minutes before 12!

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