It’s that time of the year… you know, when the trees become bare, the nights become longer,
the days colder, and most importantly, when we start our holiday planning. And so, it begins. Shopping for gifts, planning family gatherings, combing through recipes, and my favorite... decorating.
I like to have a little pop of holiday cheer in every room. Nothing too extravagant. More like,
pleasant little surprises. Fairy lights and decorative towels in the bathroom. Flannel sheets with small
Christmas trees on them in the bedroom. Small Santa’s among the books on the shelves. And this year, I’m fascinated with Christmas gnomes! Who knows where you’ll end up finding a gnome in my home?
For the tree and overall scheme though, every year it’s the same question…what will be the
main colors? Blue? Purple? Gold? Or will I go with the traditional green and red? Thinking on the color scheme this year had me curious…why green and red? Even if they aren’t your favorites, you have to admit that the sight of this color combo will always make you think of Christmas and might even possibly get you feeling nostalgic and all sorts of warm and cozy inside. So, what’s the history behind this color combo?
Turns out, the history is a bit tricky. It might possibly go all the way back to the ancient Celtic
people. They held the holly plant in high regard, believing that this evergreen with its red berries
brought beauty to the earth during the cold dreary months of winter. Reminding us that nature keeps
growing. The ancient Celtic people also used holly as a symbol of protection and prosperity during their winter solstice celebrations.
Moving into medieval times, red and green was a common pairing that was used on rood
screens (religious screens) most likely due to the easy access of those two ink pigments. Regardless of why they used that pairing so often, over time, the two colors became synonymous with Jesus (the main figure in the rood screens). So naturally, when celebrating Christmas and the birth of Jesus, those two colors became the go-to colors for decorating.
In the 1900’s Coca-Cola decided to feature a grandfatherly figure wearing red and green with
rosy cheeks and a big belly in their Christmas ads. And so now we have our modern version of Santa. And red and green are solidified as the official Christmas colors. Who doesn’t think of Santa when seeing red on the cooler winter nights? It’s his signature color! And how can we NOT look at an evergreen and think of Christmas?!
But…green and red aren’t our only Christmas color options. A few fun facts about the colors of
Red is thought to symbolize the blood of Jesus and of course…Santa’s jolly warm suit.
Green represents the evergreen which is also a symbol for some as Christ’s life and eternal nature. For Pagans it represents nature’s ability to keep growing through the coldest and darkest of days.
Gold represents the Sun (pagan) and The Son (Christian)
White represents snow and for Pagans-purity and triumphs over evil
And purple is the color of Advent- the period before Christmas when Christians fast and repent in
anticipation of Christ’s return. Purple also represents luxury, whimsy, and my favorite…. magic.
And I know this blog is about the traditional Christmas colors but honestly, who does
“traditional” anymore. We are one big melting pot of different spiritual and religious beliefs and faiths and most of us have begun to blend the faiths of our many family members and friends to include everyone in our holiday gatherings and celebrations. So let us not forget the traditional colors of Hanukkah – blue and white- blue being associated with wisdom and truth and white once again being the color of purity and faith.
So that being said…perhaps this year my home will be a cacophony of ALL colors. Whatever I
choose one thing I know for certain about this season is that I wish for all humans to be able to enjoy the magic and peace that this season is meant to represent.
May we all sing and dance in the beauty of every color.