Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. They are named 'Christians' for their belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, which is the first part of the Bible, and they see the New Testament, the second part, as the record of the Gospel that was revealed by Jesus. Throughout the Christian Scriptures color is used in descriptions, and looking at the recurring themes supplies a better understanding and insight to the principles of the religion.
Black has a powerful association with the negative aspects of human experience. Death, plagues, famine, disease, mourning, and sorrow all fall under black in description, whether it be the encroaching pestilent clouds or the ruin left behind. This is met with one exception pertaining to good health, which uses black to describe hair colour. Primarily, however, it is the colour of sin and judgment.
|Perceived generally as a heavenly colour, Blue is used throughout the Holy Scriptures. Representative of water, chastening, and holy service, the colour also appears in hanging decorations in holy places. To say that it only refers to a few things is to limit it as a symbol, but blue seems to be the colour Christians use where Buddhists would use red. Although there are a few occasions when it is used to describe corruption through wealth, it is usually purple that marks this.|| |
| ||The more obvious association for Green is with plant life like trees and grass, but it has come to represent rest, life, growth, that which is fruitful, freshness, maturity, and frailty. On a whole, it represents the triumph of life over death. The exception to this association is when it is used to symbolize disease, which is made but twice in the same book.
|Grey is typically associated with old age and the beauty of it, but it can also mean weakness, purification, repentance, sorrow, and mourning. It may also refer to ash, which on Ash Wednesday is placed on the forehead of a follower in the form of a cross to represent repentance during Lent, which is a forty-day period marked by fasting from both food and festivities, and other acts of penance.|| |
| ||Orange, although more specifically Amber or Gold, is used to describe the overwhelming radiance and presence of God, but is also used to describe Jesus as the glory of God. Amber halos are seen around the heads of saints and Jesus Christ, and suggest a oneness with God and enlightenment. Vermillion is also used, which leans more toward a red-orange. It is seen in the paint of houses, but it has come to represent lust, corruption, and unrighteousness. Yellow is not common, but it is used to describe the colour of gold. It is later used to describe leprous hair.|
|As mentioned earlier, Purple is often associated with the corruption of wealth, and this is because to acquire purple dye meant spending a great deal of money. Often, it was only royalty that could afford to wear it. In turn, it symbolises fine materials and hangings, like crimson. Purple has also been adopted as the colour for the periods of Lent and Advent.|| |
| ||Red has come to represent skin colour, wine, sores or plague, bloodied water, clothing, shields of might men, and temptation. It also symbolizes the Pentecost, as it is the colour of fire. The Pentecost is a great feast held fifteen days after Easter, which both historically and symbolically relates to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the Book of Acts. More specific than red, Crimson symbolizes life, as it is the colour of blood, but it also symbolizes war, sin, sacrifice, and the remission of sin. It also appears when referring to fine materials, as the dye itself was extracted from the dried bodies of certain insects. It is also the colour used to describe the covenant, which is an agreement between God and his followers. Scarlet represents purification and cleansing, but is also used in fine materials and riches. It is also used to describe Satan.|
|White is used to represent purity, righteousness, things in nature, and a healthy body. It is also used to describe someone who is ill. It can be represented also by silver. Ivory, however, is used when referring to the material itself and the expense of it, as well as the time put into its ornate designs, such as an ivory through or archway. When used to describe the body, it symbolizes its beauty.|| |
Christianity's rainbow of symbolic colours dispels the typical fire and brimstone connotation. From the fires of sacrifice to the white purity of thought, a Christian embraces all of the colors of life.
Christian Holiday Colors
One can argue that these are more of the "Commercialized" Christian Holiday Colors as both Christmas and Easter are now celebrated by Non-Christians alike, and are heavily marketed in retail stores.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus on December 24 & 25th. Christmas has become a large part of the western "Holiday Seasons" as Christmas Trees find their ways into many homes and families can be found caroling Christian songs in the streets. The iconic colors for Christmas are Red, Green, White & Gold.
Easter is an important day in the Christian Year. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, which Christians believe occurred on the third day of his death. The holiday is observed between late March and Early April each year. Easter is now commonly associated with the Easter Bunny, Dyed Eggs and bright colors of Pinks, Yellows, Blues, Greens, Purples.
Watch for the next in our series on Hinduism.
Colors of Religion Series: Colors of Buddhism.