Where Does The Red Thread Originate?
The red thread originates from multiple cultures: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Kabbalah, and Ancient Chinese legend.
In Hinduism, a red (also sometimes yellow or white) thread is worn by married women on the left wrist and by men and unmarried women on the right. The red string is viewed as sacred and is used in many religious celebrations and traditions. It is worn both as a symbol of good luck and protection as well as a way for people to feel connected.
Kabbalah is the mystical form of Judaism. In ancient Hebrew texts, Rachel, the mother of Joseph, tried to give birth for years without success. It was believed that she was infertile until, finally, she gave birth to Joseph. She died during childbirth with her second son, Benjamin. Her highest priority was to keep children safe and protected from evil, and for such she is revered as a holy mother figure.
Because of this, a ritual developed of tying a red string around her tomb seven times to infuse it with the energy of protection and luck. After unwrapping the string from Rachel’s tomb, it is then cut into bracelet sized lengths and tied onto the wearer’s left wrist while reciting a prayer for protection. It is believed that the bracelet will then ward off evil.
Because not everyone has access to Rachel’s tomb to wrap the red string around it seven times, it is instead often knotted 7 times while repeating a Kabbalah bracelet prayer.
In lineages of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, the tying of a cord or string around one’s wrist is a common practice during ceremonies. The string is usually blessed by a Lama (a Buddhist leader) and given to students and practitioners to represent lessons learned, or to mark the occasion of taking Buddhist vows. Traditionally, the Lama blesses the string and then ties a knot and imbues it with a mantra. Similar to other traditions, it is said that these red cords bring luck and offer protection. They also serve as a constant reminder of vows if received for a vow ceremony, or lessons if received during a retreat.
“A scarlet thread” wrapped around the hand of two biblical figures, Pharez and Zarah, appears in Genesis 38 in the Bible. It is said that in the story in which this appears, the thread symbolizes redemption.
Ancient Chinese Legend
In ancient Chinese legend, the Red Thread of Fate is an invisible thread said to tie together all those whose lives will intertwine. It is governed by the Chinese God of marriage, Yue Lao, as it is often most associated with the link between two people who are destined to be married.