Take "baby blue." It turns out that the custom of dressing boys and girls in blue and pink respectively is fairly modern. I learned that the famous Blue Boy by British painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) actually has a companion called Pink Boy. For hundreds of years, in most Catholic countries in Europe, children wore blue from head to toe because it was associated with the Virgin Mary. But in non-Catholic countries, infants were dressed in white. In 1918, "the generally accepted rule" was pink for boys and blue for girls. The reasoning behind this? Surprisingly, pink was considered "a more decided and stronger color" and thus more suitable for a boy. Blue was deemed "more delicate and dainty" and thus prettier for a girl. By the end of World War II, however, a reversal took hold that is still with us today.
What does Pastoureau conclude from all this?: "Color is not a thing in itself, much less a phenomenon related only to sight."
What are your favorite colors? Do you know the stories behind them? Has your favorite color changed during the course of your life, just as it has during human history?
What colors do you associate with particular cultures or geographical areas? Why do you think those colors are specifically there?