Why are the Christmas theme colors red and green?


At Christmas, shopping malls and living rooms around the world are full of these two colors. Almost every decoration, colored lights and even ugly sweaters on the store shelves are red with green. Why does the Christmas season go hand in hand with this color scheme? Although there is no public opinion on how red with green became the exclusive color of Christmas, there are several interesting views for reference.

Origin 1: Trees in the traditional drama Paradise

This is probably the most obscure one among various hypotheses, which believes that the connection between Christmas and red with green may originate from the traditional drama Paradise on Christmas Eve, which tells the story of the fall of human beings and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. The play can't be separated from trees, and only evergreen trees are better to watch in winter. The tree also needs to be hung with fruit - red apples or red pomegranates.

It is generally believed that after the play Paradise faded out of the stage, the trees in the play remained and became modern Christmas trees. The red of fruit and the green of tree have become the representative colors of Christmas season in the public mind.

Origin 2: holly tree

Bruce David Forbes, a professor of religion, theorized that medieval Europeans looked for things to do in the bleak winter. So they thought, why not have a party?

This party "will have evergreen trees, which symbolize life when everything is bleak, and some evergreen trees can bear fruit in deep winter, such as holly or mistletoe". (But the fruit of mistletoe is white.) The bright red and green in deep winter naturally become the representative colors of Christmas.

Origin 3: Altar Screen

In 2011, Spike Barkro of Cambridge University commented: "We... realized that holly is a typical Christmas plant, and red with green was deeply rooted in the hearts of people in the Victorian era. Their feelings for this color match originated from the medieval painting that can still be seen on the altar screen in the 15th and 16th centuries."

Until the time of the Reformation, the altar screen had always been an indispensable part of Western churches. The purpose of the altar screen is to separate the nave (where the congregation sits) and the high altar (around the altar, where the clergy stands) of the church. The screen is painted with exquisite portraits of local saints, donors or other figures.

According to Barkro, the common color combinations of the altar screen are red/green and blue/gold, one is the color of water (blue or green), and the other is the color of fire (gold or red). Barcro pointed out that these colors represent a barrier that separates secular parishioners from spiritual altars and sanctuaries.

Before the Reformation in England, most altar screens had been abandoned. After that, people either destroyed it wantonly or let it rot. According to Barkro, several hundred years later, Victorians began to repair these altar screens and noticed the red/green color matching on them. They may replace the boundary represented by this color match with another one: the boundary between the old year and the new year.


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