from all of us at Wonderopolis! What comes to mind when you think of Christmas? For some, it\’s brightly-wrapped presents sitting under the. Others think of special time spent with friends and family members celebrating the birth of Jesus. Others might
Santa sliding down the, where stockings are hung with care. If you were to put your mental images of Christmas onto paper in the form of a drawing, chances are there are two you\’d use more than any others: red and green. For hundreds of years, red and green have been the traditional colors of Christmas. But why is that? Although Christmas trees are green and Santa\’s and Rudolph\’s are red, these modern holiday decorations and characters weren\’t the inspiration for the colors we associate with Christmas. To find their, we have to go much farther back in time. Although no one knows for certain how and why red and green became so closely with Christmas, there are a few popular theories. Many Christians believe red and green were inspired by the of Jesus, whose birth Christians celebrate on Christmas. Green, for example, represents the eternal of Jesus Christ, just as trees remain green the whole winter long.
Likewise, red represents the shed by Jesus Christ during his. Some scholars date the tradition of red and green at Christmas back to the 1300s, when churches would present Miracle Plays, religious plays that were meant to educate a largely- public who could not read the Bible. One popular Miracle Play performed on Christmas Eve was called The Play. It told the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Those familiar with the story know that God instructed Adam and Eve not to eat from the of Good and Evil. They did so anyway and were banished from. Since apple trees were barren in winter, churches would instead bring in pine trees and fasten apples to their branches to represent the of Good and Evil. Over time, people began to this in their own homes, developing the tradition of the Christmas and using red and green as Christmas colors. Many historians believe the of using red and green goes even farther back in history. They point to the ancient Roman celebration of Saturnalia, which honored the god Saturn and occurred each year between December 17 and December 23.
During the celebration, Romans would their homes with holly and place small figurines called sigillaria on the boughs of trees. Over time, the leaves and red berries came to the festive and merry season. It\’s hard to imagine a time when red and green weren\’t synonymous with Christmas, but they haven\’t always been the holiday\’s go-to colors. Arielle Eckstut, co-author of Secret Language of Color, attributes the palette\’s rise to two things: holly and Coca-Cola. \”Holly has played a huge part in this red and green association,\” Eckstut tells NPR\’s Ari Shapiro. \”And it dates back to winter solstice celebrations with the Romans, and maybe beyond. And also, holly is associated with the crown of thorns of Jesus. And just those beautiful bright red berries and those deep green leaves are the exact colors that we really come to think about when we think about Christmas\” But it took a while for red and green to rise to the top. Eckstut says Victorian Christmas cards used a lot of different palettes (red and green, red and blue, blue and green, blue and white) and they often put Santa in, or red robes.
All that changed in 1931. \”Coca-Cola hired an artist to create a Santa Claus,\” Eckstut says. \”They had done this before, but this particular artist created a Santa Claus that we associate with the Santa Claus today in many ways: He was fat and jolly в whereas before he was often thin and elf-like в and he had red robes. And so the fact that all these things came together в this friendly, fat Santa in these bright red robes, which, I don\’t think is a coincidence, match the color of the Coke logo в this really took hold in American culture. \” The artist was Haddon Sundblom, and his ads were such a hit that Coke continued working with him for decades. Eckstut says, \”It solidified in our collective imaginations the red of Santa\’s robes with the green of fir trees and holly and pointsettia that we already had in our minds. This particular shade of red and green came to signify Christmas. \”