Barber poles descend from medieval times when barbers performed surgical procedures such as bloodletting. Patrons gripped a wooden pole, sometimes with a brass basin at the top containing blood-sucking leeches. The bandages—both blood-stained and clean—that barbers hung outside their shops came to represent the twirling red and white stripes on the modern-day pole. When a patriotic blue stripe was added to barber poles in the United States, they became emblems for shops offering men’s haircuts and shaves.
History of the Barber Pole
Americana, Featured Article, History, TraditionsBy American Profile on January 15, 2013
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