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The Colours of Christmas

There are a number of colours which we associate with Christmas, notably red, green and gold. But where does the use of these colours derive from, and what are their significant meaning?

Red – Probably the most popular and common colour which we associate with Christmas. It is the colour of Father Christmas’ suit, as well as the colour of Rudolph’s nose. However, the colour red also holds significant meaning to the celebration of Christmas prior to its commercialisation. ‘Paradise plays’ were performed during the middle ages commonly on Christmas Eve to those who couldn’t read the Bible. The tree in the story would have had red apples in them, to represent the apple which tempts Adam when he is in the garden of Eden. Red Is also the colour of holly berries, which represent the blood that Jesus shed when he was crucified on the cross.

Green – Commonly, we associate the colour green with a Christmas tree, which families will put up and decorate every year. Likewise, the colour green has symbolic meaning behind it. Holly was used by people to decorate their homes during the dark, cold winters as a way of reminding them that winter wouldn’t last forever and that spring would eventually come round. Romans exchanged evergreen branches to one another to impose good luck and best wishes upon people. As mentioned earlier, the tree which hosted red apples that tempted would have had green leaves, and therefore a tree was used during performances of the ‘Paradise plays’ on Christmas Eve.

Gold – The colour gold represents the star which signified the birthplace of Jesus that the shephards and wise men followed in order to find him. Furthermore, Jesus was given gold as one of his gifts by one of the three kings that attended his birth.

White – Something that many people wish for on Christmas day, particularly in the UK is a ‘White Christmas’. For many, the falling of snow at this time of the year almost feels like a tradition, it is considered an extremely festive sign. White also represents peace and pureness, and it is used in churches as the colour of Christmas; a white cloth is placed over the altar.

Blue – The colour blue is often associated with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This is why in many images of Mary you will notice that she is very often depicted wearing blue robes. For example, in medieval times blue dye was more expensive than gold, and therefore it would have only been used for the extremely important, such as Royal family. Therefore, picturing Mary in blue symbolises her importance.


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