Why Are Christmas Colours Red & Green?

Merry Christmas! After about a month of Christmas decor and anticipation, it’s finally Christmas Day today! And you may have noticed – all these years, there seems to be certain colours more prevalent than others during Christmas: red and green. Have you ever wondered how these colours became associated with Christmas? Well, it’s time to find out why are Christmas colours red and green today!

Symbolism Of The Life Of Jesus Christ

For the uninformed, Christmas Day is the day Christians the birth of Jesus Christ. Of course, debate is ongoing as to whether 25th December is actually Jesus’ birth date. Green for the eternal life of Jesus, just like the evergreen plants that remain green throughout winter. On the other hand, red represents (unsurprisingly) Jesus’s shed blood during his crucifixion.

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Miracle Plays

In the 1300s, churches would often put on Miracle Plays, which are religious plays meant to educate members of the public who were mostly illiterate and therefore unable to read the Bible. A popular play on Christmas Eve was the Paradise Play, which depicted the story of Adam and Eve. Very quickly, Adam and Eve weren’t supposed to eat fruit from that tree, but they did, and that’s how they got cast out of heaven. The fruit in question is said to be an apple, but apple trees were barren during winter. To rectify this issue, churches brought in pine trees instead, and tied red apples to the trees. Not only could this be a contributing factor to red and green being Christmas colours, but also the decoration of Christmas trees!

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Roman Traditions

The Romans decorated their homes with holly and evergreen plants during Saturnalia to honour the god Saturn. Saturnalia was celebrated just before Christmas, so perhaps the proximity of the timing had something to do with it. Furthermore, in January, the Romans also exchanged evergreen branches as a sign of good luck!

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Evergreen Plants

As you’ve probably figured out, evergreen plants play an important role during Christmas. Not only do they make great decorations, but they are also a reminder that winter isn’t forever. Some evergreen plants are holly, ivy and mistletoe.

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Holly seems to be the Christmas plant. Besides being used as decoration, holly is also associated with the crown of thorns of Jesus Christ. It’s an evergreen plant with red berries, and many believe the berries represent the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross.

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Can you imagine Santa Claus (yet another symbol of Christmas) without his signature red uniform? During the Victorian era, Santa wasn’t always in red, and Christmas cards weren’t in Christmas-trademark red and green colours either. It was actually Coca-Cola who cemented red as one of the Christmas colours, and this is what happened. In 1931, Coca-Cola hired an artist named Haddon Sundblom to depict Santa Claus. He did so putting Santa in red. By then, he wasn’t the first person to do so – red Santas had been steadily on the rise. But Coca-Cola used this as their large-scale Christmas ad, which gained widespread attention in the US nationwide. Thanks to this ad, red became synonymous with Santa and Christmas!

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