The Origins of Green and Red Colors in Christmas

Major holidays have their own classic color scheme: red for Valentine’s Day, black and orange for Halloween, and of course, green and red for around December to celebrate Christmas.  

Wherever you are in the world, it is noticeable how we have accepted the red-green combo as a classic color around December, from baking cookies, light décors, and even the colors we choose in residential painting services San Francisco for holiday’s repainting. Yet, we do so without asking the question how did they become Christmas colors?   

The Origins of Green and Red Colors in Christmas  

Green and red were not originally colors that were used to commemorate Christmas, as we know it today. This classic color combo was used but to commemorate a different holiday by Celtic people several years ago. In ancient times, the Celts revered holly plants with green and red colors for being evergreen. And since the holly flowers have these colors even during winter, they began celebrating the winter solstice with these colors, decorating their houses with holly plants for protection, and asking for good luck for the next year.   

The color combo continued in the 14th century but this time, its meaning had evolved. Around this period, the colors were used to paint rood screens, which were partitions that divide the priest from the altar in the churches’ congregation. A researcher then speculated that this might have influenced the Victorians to associate the red-green combo to “boundary”, marking the end of the year and the beginning of the new one after winter. However, it was not after the Coca-Cola ad that Christmas was associated with green and red colors. Before such time, colors and traditions were varied for Christmas, even how Santa Claus look.   

Haddon Sandblom, an artist who was hired to draw Santa Clause for a Coca-Cola ad, concluded what Santa Clause would like. He created the Santa Clause that we know: jolly and fat who wears red robe (similar color to the company’s logo). The ads became so popular and the people began thinking that the Santa Clause in the ad is the real one and since then solidified the Santa that we know today, of course, tinged with the colors that were used to represent Santa, red and green among others. Before this, Santa Clause had no consistent portrayal and representation. He was sometimes thin or wore a variation of colors. This is also due to a variety of religious and cultural traditions.   

The history of the red and green colors during Christmas does not have a one-point origin. Its collective meaning has evolved from the ancient time’s traditional practices up until its modern changes. The changes, of course, were driven by tradition, function, commercialism, and popularity and further solidified by the collective acceptance of the color combo as a symbol for Christmas.   

Whatever the origin is, or regardless of the religious and traditional traditions, the red and green colors are still the popularly known combo that represents the holiness and the jolliness that the December holiday season brings.