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30 Christmas Colors: What They Represent & Origins

Christmas is often described as a season of joy and warmth, but have you ever considered how the palette of colors associated with the holiday contributes to these feelings? In this series, we will explore the histories and meanings behind 30 significant Christmas colors.

From the quintessential reds and greens to lesser-known hues, each color has its own unique tale that adds a splash of vibrancy to the holiday season. Prepare to unwrap the fascinating stories that have shaped our understanding of Christmas, as we delve into the colorful elements that make this holiday a global tapestry of celebration.

1. Red

30 Christmas Colors - Red

Of all the colors associated with Christmas, red is surely one of the most popular. 

Go anywhere during the Christmas season, and you will see red decorations, from bows to lights, to suits (made for Santa and otherwise).

But how did red come to represent Christmas?

Well, it goes back as far as the ancient Romans, who celebrated a holiday known as Saturnalia.

Saturnalia was a winter festival named after Saturn, the god of agriculture, sewing, and seeds. 

It marked about a week of festivities, including feasting, drinking, gift-giving, and general merry-making.

During Saturnalia, homes were decorated both with candles – it was a festival of light, too – and with green plants, including holly. 

Holly, of course, features pointy green leaves, as well as ruby red fruit at the center.

When Roman polytheism started to give way to Christianity, in order to convince more converts, some of the traditions of the Roman religion were carried over.

This included the decorating of homes and other spaces with Holly.

Naturally, Christians sought to imbue the plant with their own symbolism, and so the red of the berries came to represent the blood of Christ.

But that’s not all! Consider the merry elf known as St. Nick – or Santa Claus.

His red suit became truly prominent when an artist for Coca-Cola depicted him as a jolly, round, rosy-cheeked man whose outfit was, coincidentally, the same color as the company’s branding.

Further, the color red symbolizes warmth, the heart, and love – all of which have strong connotations with Christmas and the holiday season.

2. Green

30 Christmas Colors - Green

The history of how green came to represent Christmas as one of the two major colors of the holiday is just like red.

It comes from the holly bush, which was used to decorate ancient Roman homes during Saturnalia, a winter festival.

That festival and some of those traditions were purposefully recycled by early Christians who were hoping to make Christianity more palatable to the masses. 

As with the red berry gaining new Christian meaning, so did the green leaf of the holly.

 Because the leaf is an evergreen, whose color remains constant, to Christians, it symbolizes the everlasting life promised by Jesus.

The pointy edges of the leaf also represent the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during crucifixion.

Of course, green is also the color of the Christmas tree, a tradition for which we have the 16th-century Germans to thank.

They were the ones who began the tradition of bringing an evergreen indoors and decorating it (though theirs were adorned with “roses, apples, wafers and other sweets”).

3. Gold

30 Christmas Colors - Gold

Gold is a beautiful color that pops against green and red, and it holds great meaning at Christmastime, too.

In keeping with the reason for the season, gold represents the star that the Wise Men followed, which led them to the Baby Jesus; they also brought literal gifts of gold.

It is representative of the light, candlelight, and flames that brighten our homes at Christmas – as Jesus is a light in the dark for so many.

It is also symbolic of prosperity and abundance; by putting more gold decorations into your home, you are inviting both into your lives for the upcoming year.

4. Silver

30 Christmas Colors - Silver

Silver has so much meaning when it comes to Christmas, starting with it representing the birth and divinity of Jesus Christ.

The purity and sheen of the color reflect the purity of Jesus (and his conception) and how his birth was a light for all who wander in the darkness.

It can also symbolize the star that the Wise Men followed to attend to the infant Jesus. 

In many households, too, we break out the silver utensils for the Christmas feast, so it lends itself to both the festivities and the specialness of the occasion.

And no Christmas tree would be complete with silver tinsel decorating its limbs!

5. White

30 Christmas Colors - White

White has much symbolism in accordance with Christmas, starting with its representation of the virgin conception and birth of Jesus.

Actually, the color white’s association with Christmas goes back even further than that – again, to Saturnalia, that Roman agricultural festival.

White was thought to symbolize “purity” and “triumph of good over evil,” both of which were carried over to Christianity and Christmas when the religious landscape began to shift.

Certainly, white as a symbol of purity can be seen with the candy cane, that favorite Christmas treat, which is shaped like a shepherd’s crook and a J – for Jesus.

Today, white is associated with brightness, clarity, and modernity, all of which can be witnessed where the color is used with Christmas decorations.

Then there is the term “White Christmas,” which refers to snowy weather and was popularized by the Irving Berlin/Bing Crosby song.

6. Blue

30 Christmas Colors - Blue

Blue has long been synonymous with royalty and the nobility, as only the very wealthiest echelons could afford fabric dyed this color.

So perhaps it is fitting that the mother of Jesus – despite her poor beginnings – is often depicted in blue robes, emphasizing her importance and religious “royalty.”

The use of blue around Christmas symbolizes the heavenly kingdom and the great open skies over which Jesus reigns. 

It represents tranquility and calmness – two states to which we must strive for during the chaotic holiday season. 

Blue is also the color of many Hanukkah decorations, the Jewish festival of lights held around the same time as Christmas.

7. Purple

30 Christmas Colors - Purple

Purple is another color that is associated with royalty – in fact, for a long time, only royalty could wear the color.

When Jesus was born on Christmas Day, the King of Kings came to earth, and the color purple symbolizes his true nobility.

It’s also why during Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas in the Catholic faith, the cross is draped with a purple cloth.

Of course, in our homes at Christmas, purple’s luscious hues add a touch of richness, warmth, and opulence to the décor.

8. Brown

30 Christmas Colors - Brown

Brown? A Christmas color?

You bet. While the color doesn’t have much going for it, neither did the brown manger in which Jesus was born – and yet it was fit to hold the son of God.

Brown reminds us to be humble at Christmastime and to make us grateful for all that we have, which many others do not.

Brown is also the color of reindeer and gingerbread houses, two beloved symbols of the holiday season!

9. Black

30 Christmas Colors - Black

Though more commonly associated with Halloween, black is nonetheless a Christmas color, as it is often used to accent other colors.

Black is for those who want a contemporary and modern look at Christmastime, especially paired with gold or silver.

Yet symbolically, black could be said to represent the night, in which the entire world lived until Jesus was born and brought light to everyone.

10. Pink

30 Christmas Colors - Pink

Along with black, pink is a very modern Christmas color that adds chicness, glamour, and even whimsy to the holiday décor.

From such things as floral or all-pink Christmas trees to pink wrapping paper or pink accented décor, the color is not for the faint of heart.

Who it is for, however, are those who want a fresh and feminine take on Christmas.

11. Navy Blue

30 Christmas Colors - Navy Blue

The deep richness of navy blue suggests the night sky at Christmastime, relieved only by the twinkling stars.

A subdued and sober color, it is associated with wintertime, and it is perhaps telling that navy blue was once the color of royal mourning in the Medieval period.

Still, paired with silver or gold accents, navy blue is a compelling color to use at Christmas, adding sophistication and solemnity.

12. Champagne

30 Christmas Colors - Champagne

For a subdued but still glamorous touch at Christmas, consider using champagne.

Not the bubbly – though you could very well imbibe plenty during the holidays! – the color, which is a pale mixture of yellow and orange.

It’s actually very popular for Christmas ornaments, general décor, and even wrapping paper.

Adding champagne-colored decorations to your home will give it a touch of class and elegance.

13. Copper

30 Christmas Colors - Copper

The richness of copper makes it a luxurious alternative to your typical gold or silver (or even champagne).

Its earthiness is reminiscent of the autumn leaves that fell just a month ago, while the burnished sheen makes you think of chestnuts roasting over an open fire.

14. Cranberry

30 Christmas Colors - Cranberry

This very specific shade of red is ubiquitous around Christmas, likely without you even realizing it.

A little bit brighter and lighter than your typical reds, cranberry suggests punch bowls at the holiday Christmas party and strings of cranberry garland on your evergreen tree.

It is most beautiful offset against green, white, silver, gold, and even deep, rich shades of brown.

15. Emerald

30 Christmas Colors - Emerald

Another very specific shade, emerald, belongs to the green family, and it brings to mind the lushness of a fresh Christmas tree or wreath and the leaves of the holly bush.

It is often used as a color for Christmas tree ornaments, and it pairs beautifully with gold and silver accents – gold for a warmer touch and silver for a cooler, more dignified look.

16. Ivory

30 Christmas Colors - Ivory

Ivory isn’t as starkly white as regular white; instead, it’s a warmer, off-white shade that is associated with purity and elegance.

One could suggest that the use of ivory during Christmastime reflects the virgin conception and birth of Jesus’s mother, Mary.

Ivory is also suggestive of the wintry weather that accompanies Christmas in parts of the world.

The use of ivory to create snowy décor isn’t as eye-popping as the use of pure white, and it certainly adds a warm elegance to any interior.

17. Mint Green

Christmas Colors - Mint Green

Mint green, because it’s lighter and more whimsical than regular greens, suggests trees frosted with snow and a peaceful yet joyful outdoors.

All this is to say, it’s an ideal Christmas color that is gaining in popularity around the holidays, as it adds a “minty fresh” update to your usual décor.

For maximum mintiness, consider pairing with white or ivory and silver accents!

18. Plum

30 Christmas Colors - Plum

The line from The Nutcracker goes, “While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads…”

Let visions of this luxurious and rich purple dance in your head while you consider how you are going to incorporate this color into your Christmas décor this year.

Plum is said to symbolize royalty (no surprise there, as it’s a member of the purple family), romance, luxury, and uplifting of spirits.

All of which sounds perfectly lovely for the Christmas holiday season!

19. Rose Gold

30 Christmas Colors - Rose Gold

Rose gold is definitely having a moment right now, as it’s everywhere, from jewelry to cars.

This trendy mix of pink and gold – it’s like the strawberry blonde of the color wheel – brings Christmas into the 21st century.

Ultrafeminine, glamorous, and whimsical, rose gold – if it’s too much for your main Christmas display – would look so adorable as part of a little girl’s room Christmas décor.

20. Turquoise

30 Christmas Colors - Turquoise

Turquoise is said to symbolize compassion, clarity, calmness, and communication – all things we need in abundance during the hectic holiday season.

This blue-green shade adds a pop of truly bold, cheerful color that really stands out, especially when paired with red, silver, and gold.

It’s definitely for more modern-minded decorators, but when employed as ornaments, bows, frosted trees, or garlands, it adds a classic yet contemporary touch to the room.

21. Burgundy

30 Christmas Colors - Burgundy

Burgundy is a deep brownish-red shade that derives its name from the wine that comes from the Burgundy region in France.

Burgundy was long recognized as an important and powerful duchy in Medieval and Renaissance times.

So, it should come as no surprise that color is associated with ambition, wealth, and power.

Those seeking to use the color as part of their Christmas décor are channeling hundreds of years of nobility, so be prepared for oohs and ahhs.

It would be particularly striking when paired with turquoise – for a fresh and modern take on red and green – or silver and gold.

22. Teal

30 Christmas Colors - Teal

This lighter blue-green color is actually named after the “colored area around the eye of the common teal bird.”

Around Christmas, teal can be employed as a variety of Christmas tree ornaments and tree decorations, garlands, wreaths, etc.

It promotes calming and renewal, both of which come in handy around the hectic holidays and the new year.

Teal would look divine with silver and ivory, gold, and even something opposite the color, like cranberry (for another different take on traditional green/red).

23. Rust

30 Christmas Colors - Rust

The color rust is an orangey-brown-red that derives its name from iron oxide – or what happens when iron and oxygen meets water.

While this might not sound very promising as a Christmas color, it actually lends a warmth and a coziness to the décor you might not expect.

Particularly when paired with golds, reds, and yellows, rust makes for an earthy, rustic Christmas display, whether it’s ornaments on your tree or throw pillows on your couch.

24. Charcoal

30 Christmas Colors - Charcoal

In the other direction, charcoal lends its cool, sedate character to a Christmas display that is sleek and modern.

This sophisticated color pairs beautifully with metallics, but it also helps brighter colors pop and appear that much more vibrant.

You can use it with silver or white, plus red and green, or you can pair it with coral and turquoise for a truly updated Christmas look.

25. Coral

30 Christmas Colors - Coral

If you’re hosting Christmas in the tropics – or you want to pretend that you are – consider adding coral to your color palette.

This pinky-orange is bright, beautiful, and full of cheer, while it’s also very modern, trend-forward and feminine.

While it’s quite girly, it’s also a very warm shade, and you can pair it with turquoise or teal for a fresh take on the traditional red and green Christmas colors.

26. Olive Green

30 Christmas Colors - Olive Green

Olive green can be sedate and moody, but for Christmas, it creates a traditional or vintage feel.

There is just something about this darker green that is reminiscent of cozy holidays spent with family, a big, live tree with lots of presents underneath, and a Christmas feast.

To make olive green really sing, pair it with a rich red, like cranberry or burgundy, or bring out the yellows in it with glittery gold.

27. Magenta

30 Christmas Colors - Magenta

If you like bright, bold, and unapologetically feminine, by all means, pick magenta as one of your Christmas colors!

Magenta is perfect for a Barbie-themed Christmas or just as embellishment for more traditional and sedate colors.

Pair with gold (glittery gold!) or silver to make the metallics really pop, or use it with brilliant emerald for a show-stopping take on the traditional red and green colors.

28. Lavender

30 Christmas Colors - Lavender

While lavender is prominently known as a springtime color, this light purple can also work for Christmas.

Named after the purple flower with a distinctive medicinal scent (it’s been used for centuries to aid with sleeplessness), lavender is also calming and soothing to look at.

This makes it perfect for Christmas, provided you also want a feminine and flirty look for your décor. 

Use different shades of varying lightness and darkness of lavender, or pair it with silver, ivory, or, to bring out its richness and purple-ness, gold.

29. Lemon Yellow

30 Christmas Colors - Lemon Yellow

The brightness of lemon yellow might seem jarring during the cold, bleak days of winter, but that’s exactly why you should consider employing it as part of your Christmas décor.

Lemon yellow – which is naturally named after the lemon fruit – is a bright and cheerful color that injects youthfulness and joy into any room.

You can use it as the main color, accented with lime or emerald green, gold, or even silver for a more sophisticated look.

30. Peach

30 Christmas Colors - Peach

Peach is another color that derives its name from a fruit, yet this shade is warm and inviting while still imparting a youthful feel.

Used at Christmastime, peach’s gentle delicacy is like candlelight, illuminating a room quietly. Like rust, it adds a quaint, vintage touch to the room.

It could be used in conjunction with mint green, turquoise, or emerald for a nontraditional take on Christmas’s red and green.

Or you could pair it with gold and silver for an upscale, elegant feel.

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