How hard would it be to imagine a Christmas sans red and green colors? Very difficult, right? Every year, we decorate our house in red and green. And red and green are not the only colors associated with the holidays. White, gold, and blue also fall on the list. After doing a thorough research on it, we found that the traditional Christmas colors have both religious and historical origins. And in this article, we’ll discuss the significance of the colors of Christmas.
Significance Of The Colors Of Christmas
The color green has been considered the color of life and mystery, even before Jesus Christ was born. While every other tree dies during the winter, only holly bushes and fir trees remain evergreen. People probably thought that it was some kind of magic that helped these trees survive the harsh weather. Thus, these two plants were both feared and worshipped at the same time. And ever since, the color green came to be associated with life.
The Romans celebration of Saturnalia, the festival, which honored God Saturn, took place every year between 17th December and 23th December. During this ceremony, Romans would weave holly wreaths and hang on their doors and wall. These wreaths signified their desire to see the rebirth of the sun and return of the summer. Romans would even place ‘sigillaria,’ small figurines on the evergreen tree boughs.
When the churches began celebrating Christmas or Christ’s birth on the 25th of December, which happened at around the 4th century, the believers and followers of Christianity left the wreaths to be hung during Christmas as well. Since then, the color green has become associated with Christmas.
The Romans would even exchange evergreen branches of mistletoe, ivy, and holly in January as a sign of good luck. The ancient Egyptians, on the other hand, would bring palm branches in their house, particularly during the midwinter festivals.
Furthermore, Paradise plays were performed in several countries of Europe during the Middle Ages on the Christmas Eve. The play narrated the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. These plays were Bible stories read to people who couldn’t read. The “Paradise tree” featured in the play was located in the garden of Eden. It was basically a pine tree with red apples tied to it.
If the color green represents the birth of the son of God, red symbolizes his blood and death. This was one significant reason why people started adding red berries to their green holly wreath. It didn’t just make the wreath eye-catching, but also made a powerful analogy. Since then, the color red and green became associated with Christmas. They symbolize Jesus Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection.
The significance of the color red during the Christmas further increased due to Paradise Play. Since apple trees were barren during winter, people would manually tie apples to the tree branches to signify the Tree of good and evil. As time passed, people began replicating this practice in their homes as well. Over time, it became a tradition of decorating Christmas trees in red, be it apples or ornaments.
And do you know how red became the color of Santa’s uniform? Red was the color of the robes bishops, including what St. Nicholas wore. And this is how it became the color of Santa’s clothes.
Red also symbolizes Christ’s teaching of the art of unconditional love. It was God’s unconditional love for his people that he decided to send his son into the world to guide people and teach them equality, mutuality, love, and understanding. The color red symbolizes the love, integrity, and trust that must prevail in every relationship. When people love unconditionally, there would be nothing else but joy and happiness in the entire world.
Gold, the color of the sun and light, are significant, or rather required in the cold months of winter. But how did it come to be associated with Christmas? Well, gold was one of the many presents the three wise men brought to baby Jesus. And it’s also the color of the star the wise men followed.
Furthermore, the color gold also signifies gift of the eternal life and the giving nature of the Almighty. God chose Mary, a poor, peasant woman to bring his son into the world. Mary and her husband Joseph were ready to face all odd just to save Jesus Christ. This show that God treats everyone equally and Jesus Christ, his son, proved the same to the world.
Jesus Christ is spotless, sinless and pure, just like the color white. He brought light in the dark and dying world and died just for the betterment of his people. Those who acknowledge Jesus Christ as their savior are washed off their sin and made whiter and purer than they are.
White, the color of peace and purity, also happens to be the color of the snow, which we see in abundance during winter and of course, Christmas. But that’s not all. White paper wafers were used in earlier times to decorate the paradise trees. The wafers generally symbolized the bread the believers ate during the Mass of Christian communion. It’s their way of remembering the Jesus died for them.
Moreover, the color white is incorporated by most of the churches during Christmas. The altar of the church is covered with white, except of Russian Orthodox churches, where gold is used during Christmas. Even the fifth Advent candle, also known as the Christ Candle, positioned right in the center of the wreath is white.
The shade blue is associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. In the medieval times, blue dye or paint was much more expensive than gold. Hence, the color blue would only be worn by wealthy people or royal families. Mother Mary is often depicted wearing blue to signify her importance. Also, blue represents the color of the sky or night, the waters of the creation in Genesis 1 and even heaven for that matter.
Purple or violet is considered the main color of Advent as it symbolizes fasting and repentance. During Advent, the churches cover the alter with either violet or purple cloth.
Since purple is the color of royalty, it even demonstrates the sovereignty of Jesus Christ, and the reception and anticipation of the coming King celebrated during Advent. Today, several churches use blue instead of purple.
The first candle of the Advent Wreath, the candle of hope or the prophecy candle is purple. Even the candle of preparation or the Bethlehem candle is purple in color. Additionally, the candle of love or angel candle, which is the fourth advent candle also happens to be purple.
As a color of advent, pink or rose is used during Gaudete Sunday, or the third Sunday of Advent in the Catholic Church. The color pink doesn’t just represent love and joy, but also reveal the shift of the season from repentance towards celebration. The candle of joy or the Shepherd candle, which happens to be the third Advent wreath candle is pink in color.
We hope our article on the colors of Christmas would help enhance your appreciation of the season. If we’ve missed mentioning any of the significance of the colors of Christmas, let us know by commenting below.
You May Also Like To Read:
- Religious Christmas Story: Nativity Story from the Bible
- History of Christmas Mistletoe
- Christmas Tree: History, Types Meaning and Ornaments
- History of Santa Claus