Why do we have red carpets for VIPs?
These days, red carpet affairs usually involve royalty or Hollywood celebrities – but when did this rolling out the red carpet business begin and why?
Well, it might well have all started back in ancient Greece. That’s when a Greek play – Agamemnon by Aeschylus if you really want to know – had Trojan war hero Agamemnon walking across a red carpet. Apparently red was the colour of the gods, and his wife wanted to show how arrogant her husband was by getting him to step on it. After that, red started showing up in paintings to illustrate royalty or wealth.
Fast forward to 1902 when the first rail service between New York and Chicago opened. To direct passengers to their carriages, the New York Central Railroad laid out red carpet at Grand Central Station – and set off the phrase ‘red-carpet treatment’.
It wasn't until 1922 that the red carpet was linked to celebrities. That’s when a red carpet walkway was used at Hollywood’s first-ever premiere (the movie was Robin Hood' starring Douglas Fairbanks). Then the red carpet appeared at 1961’s Academy Awards, serving as a guide to help Hollywood stars get from their cars to the event’s new venue at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
Rolling out the red carpet might have started out as a practical tradition, but today the red carpet is synonymous with celebrities and VIPs such as prime ministers, presidents and royalty. And we’re all getting in on the action. Nightclubs, weddings, prom nights – wherever there’s a special event, the red carpet is there to make people feel important.
Still, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion – why not roll out the red carpet at home and feel like a VIP every day?