Green, Red, White and Gold are the traditional Christmas colours but did you ever wonder how this came to be? I love the festive season and we change the colours on our Christmas tree each year depending on the trends. But this weekend my daughter Andi and I decided to bring out the Red, Green, White and Gold which have that special history and will give this Christmas a little more meaning.
Christmas in the northern European countries is the middle of winter, often it is cold and dark. Evergreen plants like Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe were used to decorate homes since the medieval times for their beauty and a reminder that spring was coming. The Ancient Celts marked the Winter Solstice by decorating their homes with holly, which they believed had magical properties and would protect their family over the coming year. With the emergence of Christianity many Celtic customs including the use of holly were included in the celebrations around Christmas – even though the Church was not always happy with the association.
Holly is called christdorn ‘Christ thorn’ in Germany as a reminder of Jesus and his suffering . The legend is that his crown of thorns was made from the holly bush. The white blossoms represent Christ’s purity, the red berries reflect his blood.
In the Christian tradition green symbolizes eternal life
The most vibrant colour of the season from Rudolf’s red nose to Santa’s outfit. The red suit of Santa originated with St Nicholas of Myrna – a red-robed Greek bishop – but the Coca Cola company was instrumental in creating the modern day image of Santa. In 1931 they commissioned artist Haddon Sundblom to come up with a Christmas ad. He painted Santa as a plump, jolly man with a red suit and a white beard. Up until then Santa had been illustrated in many shapes and sizes and in different coloured robes.
The world loved Sundblom’s friendly Santa and he continued to create holiday ads for Coca Cola from 1931 to 1964, solidifying this image of Santa in our imagination. Sundblom’s illustrations of Santa continue to be used today.
In Christianity red symbolises the blood of Jesus.
Gold is associated with the colour of the sun and light, both important during winter months. Gold is also associated with royalty and wealth and it was one of the precious gifts bought to Jesus by one of the wise men. It has come to represent the colour of giving and symbolizes the spiritual illumination and glory of God.
Associated with peace and purity in western cultures, it is also the colour of snow which blankets much of the northern hemisphere during Christmas . White is the colour used by most churches to represent Christmas. It portrays purity, joy, forgiveness and truth. The sparkling white lights on a Christmas tree represent the star of Bethlehem, which the three wise men followed to find Jesus.
Blue represents the sky and heaven. It is also associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. The colour blue in medieval times was extremely expensive and only worn by the very rich and royalty. While Mary was a poor woman, she was often illustrated wearing blue, to highlight what an important woman she was.
Its tradition to take decorations down on the 12th night or January 5th. While I love Christmas and decorations the impact they may have on the environment if not recycled is scary. I bought myartificial tree 5 years ago without thinking about the impact on the environment. These trees are not environmentally friendly at all. With this in mind I don’t plan to throw it out any time soon. By changing the colour scheme each year I don’t feel the need to replace it.
Let me know what colours you love at Christmas.