Christmas Trivia - Christmas Colors

Why are the colors red and green associated with Christmas?

The traditional Christian answer is the red signifies the blood shed by Christ on the cross, and green symbolizes the eternal life in Christ.

However, there is reason to believe from ancient Pagan festivals that red and green were already associated with the holiday before it was transformed into a Christian tradition.

Green, for example, would have been derived from evergreen plants like Holly, Ivy, and Mistletoe, which were the most prominent greenery during the European winter, and which were already associated with the winter festival of Saturnalia, symbolizing life and the approach of spring, as well as the transient nature of the winter dormancy and cold. Red would have been present in the holly berries, and perhaps apples, which would have been one of the few fruits available at that time of year.

The Christmas carol "The Holly and the Ivy" explains the Christmas colors by mixing both Christian and Pagan imagery -- mapping Christian attributes to Pagan fertility symbols.

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