Day 9: Why Red & Green?

When you think of Christmas, you think red and green. When you see red and green, you think Christmas. Do you know why those are the colors most often associated with the holiday or the history behind their popularity?

On the 9th Day of Christmas, Someone Chose the Color Scheme

The first colors you think of when someone mentions Christmas, are red and green. If you think long enough you may come to gold and silver, maybe even to blue. Where did these color come from though? Frankincense, gold, and myrrh are all yellowish or gold. We aren't told what color clothing Jesus is wrapped in, but purple is the color associated with royalty (in Europe at least) and Jesus is King of Kings. The star would have appeared silver or gold-ish. Bethlehem isn't a forest or jungle where we would imagine a lot of greenery... I can't even fathom where the red would come from.

One scholar traces the red and green combination past Catholic paintings of saints to a Celtic legend in which a tree was said to be half green and half red.[1] Another source assumes green became associated with the holiday through the pagan Saturnalia's tradition of exchanging greenery (like holly or ivy) and the red originates from Jesus' sacrifice.[2] Yet, another theory is that the red and green come from a play, showcased on Christmas eve, about the fall of man. In this play, Adam and Eve's forbidden fruit is a red apple tied to a pine tree (we won't get into the fact that the Bible does not say they ate an apple).[3]

This made me wonder what the Bible says about these colors. When God tells the Israelites how to build the tabernacle, we get a glimpse of the colors He prefers. What were those colors? Scarlet, gold, blue, and purple. Green is generally mentioned Biblically in reference to food, though interestingly both green and red are mentioned in connection to identifying a "plague of leprosy" in a house (likely in reference to mold). Green is also the color mentioned in reference to binding Samson,[4] the fresh, undried (and green) rope renders him weak. In short associating color with the holiday is not Biblical and is purely a man made tradition.


  1. "Who Colour-Coded Christmas?". University of Cambridge. October 2011
  2. "The Importance of Christmas Colors". Color Combos. 2015
  3. Cooper, James. "The Colors of Christmas". Why Christmas. 2015
  4. Judges 16

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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