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The Red String Bracelet: Meaning, Origin, And History

If you're wondering what that popular red string that you see from celebrities is, you're in the right place. You might have also heard of the bracelet since Madonna was first seen wearing one and more celebrities have followed since. We will talk about this red string bracelet to greater length from its history onwards. 

What is the story behind the red string bracelet?

What was the basis behind the now-famous bracelet? There are religious and biblical mentions of the red string bracelet. Here are some examples where the bracelet was mentioned.

Rachel, Joseph the Dreamer’s Mother

Rachel is one of two of Jacob's wives, the other being her older sister Leah. After 14 years of barrenness, she was finally blessed with two sons - Joseph the Dreamer and Benjamin, to which she died in childbirth. At her tomb, a red string was tied around it seven times. That string was then cut to pieces after being removed and made into bracelets. We will get to why the number 7 has significance in this.

Judah and Tamar

The story of Judah and Tamar is one for the books. They are in-laws, Tamar is the wife of Judah's firstborn Er. Er died and Judah's second son, Onan, took Er's place but was also smote by the Lord. Since both of Tamar's husbands died, Judah asked her to go back to her father's to wait for his youngest son to grow up. As Tamar could not wait to bear children, she disguised herself as a woman of the night and enticed Judah, unaware, to have sexual relations. She then bore him twins, two boys named Pharez and Zerah. Both twins were tied to a red string on their left wrists by the nurse.

A token of appreciation by Caleb and Pinchas to Rahab

Moses' successor, Joshua, sent Caleb and Pinchas to the city of Jericho for recon purposes. The King of Jericho was on the lookout for any spy coming to revolt against the king. He heard that the two suspicious men went to the house of a well-known prostitute named Rahab. Rahab then hid both men and told the King's soldiers that they left as soon as they came. After such time, both men were grateful for the gesture that they will spare Rahab and her family when Joshua's army comes to invade. The marker? A red string tied on her windowsill. 

Where did the red string originate?

There is no actual origin set in stone for the red string bracelet as it spans geographical locations and various faiths. This will be discussed in detail later. But as stated, the farthest recorded mention of the red string is the Bible with Judah's twin boys in Genesis 38:27-30.

What does red string mean spiritually?

Believe it or not, this red string is not for nothing. This bracelet has been and still is rooted in spirituality and protection across various faiths. As it is not an actual custom but more of a belief in protection, we will break down the details of the bracelet

What does the color red (also referenced as scarlet or crimson) mean?

In Buddhist and Jewish beliefs, different colors signify attributes. The Jewish faith believes that the color red embodies gevurah, or stringency and divine judgment. The color red also serves as a negating color to the Evil Eye. With Buddhism, the color red is a dual one - is either warmth or destruction. It is also symbolic of blood, lifeforce, preservation, and more.

What do the 7 knots in the red string bracelet mean?

The number 7 is a prominent one, especially with Judaism. It is representative of God and everything associated with the divine. It is also seen in numerous entries on the Bible and other holy texts. Take for example the seven years that Jacob served for Laban to take Rachel as his wife. Or the seven days of Creation which made way for the seven days of the week. The number 7 also denotes completeness and perfection.

What are the red string bracelets for?

So far, you have glimpses of what the red string bracelets are for. But if the idea is still vague, we can help with that! Here are some of the bracelet's purposes.

Protection

As stated earlier, one of its uses is to protect the wearer from negative energy. Like how a Nazar Boncuk or a Hamsa Hand does, the red string bracelet acts the same. There may be a color difference but it all leads to the same result - to keep you protected! 

Receiving Blessings

Similar to the Hamsa Hand, the red string bracelet will also garner blessings to the wearer. The reason here is the bracelet is predominantly worn on the left wrist, which is the side of the body that receives it.

Vitality and Strength

Related to receiving blessings, the left wrist or hand contains the vein connected to the heart. The heart is the center of life. It is the one that pumps the blood in the body.

Represent a Completed Vow

This one is "tied" to Buddhist practices. There are certain ceremonies where the Lama or a Buddhist leader will bestow someone a red string and tie it on the wrist. This is to signify either a vow that was taken by Buddhist monks or a celebration of lessons learned by practitioners.

red-string-image

Honor Deity

Shakti, a Hindu deity, represents the color red. The same color is highly important to the Hindu faith.

Profess Faith

As it is connected to the Kabbalistic faith, it is a symbol that shows solidarity with the belief.

Destiny or Fate

There are times where unmarried women wear this as a symbol of waiting for "the right one." Belief states that when the bracelet falls off, it means that your soulmate is bound to come into your life sooner.

Redemption and Purification

In line with Rahab's story, she chose to save the Hebrew spies believing that there's something better over the horizon. And that belief redeemed her from her current state to becoming a believer of God. With purification, it is akin to the Evil Eye charms.

Fashion Statement

Madonna wears it. Britney wears it. It has become a fashion trend with a lot of celebrities backing it up.

What does the red string bracelet protect you from?

Same as the various Evil Eye charms, the red string bracelet is also a good luck charm and a negating presence against evil. If you want to read more about how Evil Eye charms work, you can read our articles about the Hamsa Hand and the Nazar Boncuk here.

What does the red string around the wrist mean?

Left wrist red string

The left side is the receiving side of the spiritual body. Given that the red string bracelet is to attract luck and tied to the left amplifies the receipt of good luck. That has always been the Kabbalistic belief.

Firstborn red string 

In the story of Pharez and Zerah, Zerah was supposed to be the firstborn being that his hand came out first from his mother's womb. The tying of the red string serves to identify the firstborn, especially in the case of twin births. However, Zerah's hand went back in and it was Pharez who came out completely first.

Who wears red string?

A lot of people wear red string bracelets. It may be seen as a fashion statement but some take the belief seriously. Let's have a look at the importance of the bracelet in different cultures and religions.

What does the red thread mean in Judaism?

Though it isn't mentioned in any of the holy texts and it is highly discouraged by the core faith, the Kabbalistic faith condones it. Kabbalah follows the tying of 7 knots, symbolizing the importance of the number 7. What Judaism agrees on though is that it is a symbol of protection against evil, especially with the color red.

What does the Marti bracelet mean for Greeks?

The Marti Bracelet is a braided bracelet with a combination of red and white colors. This is traditionally worn by young Greek girls to protect them from the Spring sun, which starts in March. The significance of the red string part means vitality, life, health, and love.

Why do Buddhists wear red strings?

In Buddhist belief, the red string bracelet represents the endless knot. The knot signifies oneness with the Universe, including all things in perfect harmony. It also protects the wearer against negative energy

What does a red string bracelet mean in Mexico?

The red string bracelet in Mexico acts the same way as the Nazar Boncuk, as protection from the evil eye. It is usually called "mal de ojo brazalete" or the evil eye bracelet

Why do the Chinese wear red bracelets?

The Red Thread of Fate, as Chinese culture calls it, denotes the intertwining of lives. In short, it is the connecting thread between you and your soulmate.

What does the red string bracelet mean in India?

In India, the bracelet is called kalava or mauli. The symbolism and belief are not just for protection but also represent connection and an indication of rite-of-passage. May it be for the love of another (romantic) or love of family, the bracelet is important in the rituals of Indians.

What does the red string mean in Japan?

Similar to China's, Japan's belief in the red string also symbolizes the connection of two people's destinies to one another. Japanese culture states that the invisible thread is tied from the man's thumb to the female's pinkie finger.

What does the red string mean in Islam?

In Islam, the faith forbids its followers to wear anything that would promise protection. The belief states that it not only negates the effect it promises, it is also a sign of imitation of non-Muslims, which is a big no-no.

While this is the case, the color red is important in Islam. It is symbolic of the life force.

What does the red string bracelet mean in Hollywood?

Madonna started it, introducing Kabbalah to the masses. Ashton Kutcher too, along with his now ex-wife Demi Moore. Other actors, actresses, and celebrities are wearing it for various reasons - good luck and protection against evil and misfortune mostly. That's probably why Leonardo DiCaprio finally bagged the Oscar for Best Actor in 2016. He wears one too!

Where do you wear a red string bracelet?

Aside from India where males wear theirs on the right, following tradition, everyone else wears it on the left wrist. The left side of the body is the physical and spiritual side that receives. The left wrist also contains the vein that is close to the heart, which gives life to a human being.

It is also advised that someone tie it for you, a close friend, family member, or someone like a Tibetan monk or a person of faith. The reason is that the blessing and positivity will be passed on to the wearer.

Can you remove the red string bracelet? 

It is advised that you need to wear your bracelet just right, not tight nor loose. A lot of people and websites regarding the website will tell you to leave it on. It will fall off by itself eventually. This will be a sign for you to either wear a new one or an end of your journey, in case of vows or finding love.

Where to get a red string bracelet

Back then, you needed to go on a pilgrimage to Bethlehem to get a piece of red string that was tied in Rachel's tomb. Nowadays, any online store that sells ornaments related to protection and good luck has it. Well, we sell it too! You may check out our red string bracelets and the rest of our catalog here.

Final Note

The red string bracelet is more of a personal fashion choice than a trend to follow. All the more personalized to the fact that a person close to you will need to tie your string for good vibes. 

The history of the red string is so expansive and interesting that it is more than enough to have a look into it. So whoever you are - man, woman, child, or celebrity - may your red string bracelet serve its purpose.