The Colors of Christmas

Have you ever wondered why red and green are considered Christmas colors?

I didn’t until I read “How Red and Green Became the Colors of Christmas” by Rachel E. Greenspan ( ).  The article quotes Arielle Eckstut, author of The Secret Language of Color:“There is no definitive history, per se.”

Eckstut discovered that holly, with its green leaves and red berries, long played a role in winter solstice celebrations that predates the observance of Christmas.  But it took centuries for those particular colors to be associated with the holiday. “It’s like a lot of things that have to do with culture and color, where it’s some combination of a natural phenomenon mixed with other cultural forces,” Eckstut says.  A big part of those other cultural forces is one you might not expect until you think about it — advertising.

A major driver was 1930s Coca-Cola advertising featuring Santa Claus as we now see him: old, plump, jolly, red-faced, white-haired and with a red outfit (pictured).  Eckstut says this Santa didn’t really exist in our culture before Coke’s advertisements.  After a 1930 campaign used an ordinary man in a Santa suit,  artist Haddon Sundblom was commissioned to paint this picture of the “real” Santa.  And the red of Santa’s suit with the green of the tree simply stuck in our minds.  “I like to say it’s the beauty of nature combined with the crassness of commerce that created a red and green Christmas,” Eckstut says.

So Merry and colorful Christmas!

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