Although no one knows the origins of red and green at Christmas for certain, there are many theories, and in this article, we will look at the possible reasons why these became the colours of the season.
Why are red and green associated with Christmas?
Christmas is the time of year where we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but over the decades it has become more about exchanging gifts and spending time with our family and friends.
There are simple associations that make us think of these colours, Santa’s suit is red and a Christmas tree is green. But the use of these two colours stems back further. In Christianity, it is taught that the red represents the blood of Jesus when he was crucified, and the green represents the eternal life of Jesus like an evergreen tree. Some people claim it comes from holly bushes, with their red berries and dark green leaves as they thrive at that time of year. Holly bushes are used to make wreaths that we hang on our front doors during the holiday season so they are a popular image at this time of year. There are many links and stories that are claimed to be the reason for the colour choices at Christmas. Some people believe that the colours have come from more commercial influences.
Where did the colour red originate in association with Christmas?
Although red has been a prominent colour used at Christmas, it is said that Coca-Cola was the one who made it a dominant colour. In 1931 Coca-Cola advertisements became more popular in magazines, especially when approaching the holidays. One of the first advertisements was commissioned to illustrator Haddon Sundblom, with the instructions of creating an advertisement with Santa Claus drinking Coca-Cola. Sundblom wanted to create an image of the real Santa, rather than of someone dressed as Santa. This was a turning point in history because the illustration of Santa was so lifelike that it became the image representation of the real Father Christmas. Santa wore red and from then on, Coca-Cola has continued to advertise with its red branding and hence becoming an associated colour of Christmas.
Why did the colour green become associated with Christmas?
The association of green at Christmas doesn’t have quite a significant defining moment like the colour red. Many associations point back to the flora and concept of bringing an evergreen tree into the home around Christmas time. The first documentation of bringing a tree into the home is in Roman culture when they celebrated Saturnalia. This was to honour the God Saturn and was celebrated from December 17 to 23. Traditions involved decorating the home with holly and evergreen trees, which would be decorated with small figures. This is one of the oldest examples of trees being brought inside during the winter to decorate the home. The colour green is widely associated with Christmas because we decorate our homes with trees, holly, and mistletoe.
What other colours were used at Christmas in history?
Victorian Christmas cards show that various combinations of colours were paired when it came to Christmas. Victorian cards use colour combinations like red and green, red and blue, blue and green, blue and white.
Santa Claus was even depicted wearing different coloured suits, from red to green and blue.
It wasn’t until 1931 when Christmas started to become more of a commercial holiday and this is when green and red became the defining colours. Like other holidays, Christmas has its traditions and associations. Some are more recent than others but red and green have been the colours of Christmas for hundreds of years. It would seem that due to the commercialization of the holiday, it has resulted in these two colours becoming the most prominent at Christmas.
Much like orange and black at Halloween, red and green have stuck as being the representational colours of that time of year."
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All the best Jan