Meaning of Colour - Christmas Edition

The other day I was wandering through one of those sensory-overload home décor stores. I do love those places when time permits it. The number of colour choices for holiday accessories and decorations was impressive.

 

Since colours and patterns always attract my attention, I started thinking how the number of available colour choices for Christmas decorations have really evolved since the days of Red, Green and White. In my experience, those three are typically recognized as the colours of the Christmas holiday season.  Well maybe throw in or substitute a silver or gold to add some bling and there you have it – festive colours of the season.

 

Then I got to thinking…why those colours (Red, white, green)? Do they have special meaning related to Christmas and the holiday season?

 

I checked out a few sources to get the scoop on the meanings of these colours.  Here is what I discovered…

 

RED

Abstract IV by Linda Simopoulos

Red is a primary colour with several meanings that include passionate love, violence, and danger in Western cultures. It can be associated with communism and revolution in countries like Russia; and be considered in Asian cultures to be a very important colour, symbolizing good luck, joy, prosperity, and happiness.  It’s the colour of blood, hence its connection with life sustaining connotations. 

It is the positive cable of a jumper cable set. It has very high visibility, which is why stop signs, stoplights, and fire equipment are usually painted red. In heraldry, red is used to indicate courage. It is a colour found in many national flags. (Color Wheel Pro.com)

Red brings text and images to the foreground. Used as an accent color it can stimulate people to make quick decisions, because it is an emotionally intense colour; it is a perfect color for 'Buy Now' or 'Click Here' buttons on Internet banners and websites and price tags on sale items… (Color Wheel Pro.com)

Red is a magical and religious colour, signifying action, fire, charity, and spiritual awakening. The colour red is linked to primitive emotional needs. It can increase respiration rate and raise blood pressure. It glorifies the sun and the joy of life and love. In the Christian symbolism, it denotes the Holy Spirit. (www.wou.edu, Color Symbolism in Christianity)

No matter what camp (religious or commercial) you are in regarding the holidays, red definitely represents all parts of the holiday season, reflecting your joy or stress of family-time (blood connections) together, the busyness of events and dinners, charity of sharing and caring for those less fortunate, the crazy sprint and volume shopping for gifts, and the spirituality of religious significance. 

 

GREEN

Green is a secondary colour. It is easy to understand its relevance at this time of year.  The colour of nature, evergreens in the winter season, green symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness and fertility. In heraldry, green indicates growth and hope. Dark green is also commonly associated with money and has great healing power. (Color Wheel Pro.com) I never considered this time of year for shopping therapy, but you sure spend more money than other times of the year.

Green is restful to the human eye, suggesting stability and endurance, health and safety; all qualities that make a strong base from which to launch into the new year. In the Christian context, it represents bountifulness, hope and the victory of life over death. (Color Symbolism in Christianity www.wou.edu)

Jacob Olesen of colour-meanings.com suggests the colour green relieves and provides both mental and physical relaxation, helps treat depression, nervousness and anxiety and provides a sense of renewal, freedom, self-control and harmony; all of which is a great counter balance to effects of the colour red and the hectic pace of the holiday season. 

By the way, red and green are exact opposites on the colour wheel, so their mutual presence representing the holiday season is all making some sense.

 

 

WHITE

Silver Wave I by Karen Mayer

White is actually not a colour, very much the absence of colour, and is referred to as a tint.  In physics, a color is visible light with a specific wavelength. Black and white are not colours because they do not have specific wavelengths. Instead, white light contains all wavelengths of visible light. (Education Seattle PI.com)

It is associated with light, goodness, innocence and birth, purity, and virginity. White is considered to be the color of perfection. White is the liturgical color of Christmas. (www.wou.edu, Color Symbolism in Christianity)

White also means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity. (Colour Wheel Pro.com)

In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it's the color of snow (Color-Meanings.com).  If we are lucky (or for some unlucky) we get snow at this time of year.  Angels are usually imagined wearing white clothes. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility. (Color Wheel Pro.com)

White is inherently positive and associated with light, goodness, heaven, safety, brilliance, illumination, understanding, faith, beginnings, sterility, spirituality, possibility, humility, sincerity, protection, softness, and perfection. (Bourn Creative.com)

So white definitely fits with green and red being representative of the holiday season and an important religious celebration.

 

GOLD AND SILVER

Timeless Expression VIII

Gold and Silver are metals, reflecting the opulence and brilliance of the spiritual holiday. Gold is thought to be feminine and is indicative of wealth, abundance, prosperity, luminosity and money (Color-meanings.com).  Silver is masculine, a powerful colour which can bring about mental, physical and emotional harmony. Silver colour meaning includes glamorous, sophisticated and distinguished.  

 

The use of red, green and white got an early start in Christmas celebrations. Color-meaning.com reports that until the 12th Century, the Pope had allowed only five colors, namely Violet, Red, Black, White and Green in religious symbolism. The colors Gold and Blue were added after the ecumenical Liturgical Movement. (Color-meaning.com)

 

As with many things in contemporary times, you don’t have to stick with what’s always been done. Decorate your home for the holidays in the colours that make you feel good and mean the most to you.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


Karen