With Christmas season getting into full swing, it is time to decorate the house for the holidays. One of the most significant considerations regarding holiday decor is the color palette.
Traditional Christmas colors are popular for a reason, but modern interior designers remind us that other colors can represent the Christmas spirit just as well.
When deciding which Christmas colors to use for your motif, you can incorporate the symbolism behind specific colors while embracing your love for certain aesthetics.
What Are the Traditional Christmas Colors?
Red and Green are traditional Christmas colors often used in decoration. Although these two colors dominate Christmas decor, golds, silvers, light blues, and whites often supplement them.
What Do Red & Green Represent?
Red and Green have long held symbolic importance. Both colors represent life but in different ways.
Green is the color of nature, growth, and renewal.
It represents abundance, prosperity, and new life. The representation comes directly from nature, with fresh spring buds portending the end of winter and the possibilities of spring.
Green’s historical association with growth and renewal led to further associations with wealth, luck, prosperity, and abundance.
Red also represents life but aligns more with vigor, health, and intense emotions than the calming growth associated with green.
Red, the color of blood and fire, symbolizes passion. It’s what we need to survive and thrive.
Red and Green as Christmas Colors
Red and Green’s association with life are precursors to their fame as Christmas colors, but not the only reason they shine during the holiday season.
Erin Wilson, Christmas enthusiast and holiday expert with ChaChing Queen, believes red and green became associated with Christmas due to their natural occurrence on Christmas plants. The evergreen maintains its color all year long, and holly plants shine with bright red berries during winter.
Pre-Christian holiday traditions support this theory. Although evergreens are now commonly associated with Christmas, they harken back to an older holiday predating Christianity.
Pagan peoples worshipping the winter solstice originated the late December celebration. The Celtics called it the Yule holiday, hosting a festival to commemorate the longest night of the year and look forward to the eventual return of new life in the spring. At the same time, the Romans celebrated Saturnalia, decorating their homes with wreaths and greenery.
Many Christmas traditions find their beginnings in Yule celebrations. The Celtics held evergreen trees in high esteem, as they are the only plant to maintain their lush coloration throughout the harsh winters. Worshippers hung gifts and offerings to the gods in Evergreen groves; a practice often considered the precursor to our modern tradition of decorating Christmas trees.
Red May Not Have Such a Long History
Although associated with the Yule celebration due to holly berries on ivy, red wasn’t always one of the primary Christmas colors.
Coca-Cola solidified red as a primary Christmas color by creating the contemporary view of Santa Claus as the cheerful old man with rosy cheeks donning a fluffy red suit. Before coke’s advertising campaign, varying cultures portrayed St. Nicholas in various ways with differing colors. He was a tall man in bishop’s cloaks, a hunter in animal skins, and even an elf.
The soft drink company changed Santa’s image and helped propel red, its brand color, into the public’s mind as a Christmas color.
Red and Green in Christian Traditions
As we know it today, Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Although many Christmas colors originated with pre-Christian traditions, the religion also imbues them with its own symbolism.
Some traditions use holly to symbolize the crown of thorns affixed to Jesus’s head before his crucifixion. The red berries represent his blood, spilled as an ultimate sacrifice, while the evergreen brush illustrates his (and, as an extension, humanity’s) immortality. Red’s representation of Christ’s blood is a common theme in Christianity and is essential to Christmas and the spring holiday Easter.
What Do the Supplemental Christmas Colors Represent?
The golds, silvers, light blues, and whites associated with Christmas have symbolically significant meanings as well. When choosing your Christmas color palate, you can pick colors based on their meaning or choose an aesthetic based on principles of color theory.
Gold gets its name from the precious metal and is commonly associated with wealth, success, and prestige. Gold’s association with Christmas has deep roots. The three wise men gave the infant Jesus Christ a gift of gold in addition to frankincense and myrrh.
Although silver represents wealth, it’s also associated with grace and elegance. Silver’s unique reflective characteristic also leads to representations as a mirror into our own true natures. Silver is also associated with strength and the destruction of evil.
Light blue symbolizes peace and calm. In Christian traditions, it’s commonly associated with Jesus’s mother, Mary, as a symbol of the divine. Secular Christmas traditions often use light blues to represent the snow and ice everyone hopes to see during the holiday.
White is a color of purity. It represents virtue, peace, and goodness. The Bible often uses white to symbolize innocence, and Jesus is often depicted wearing white robes. However, earlier religious traditions also used the color for similar purposes.
Which Colors Should You Use When Decorating?
Decorating a home for the holidays is about more than the symbolism behind each color. Choosing colors may be based on various needs, such as your personal tastes, whether the colors match, the mood you are trying to create, and current popular trends.
Your home may already follow specific color schemes which may not match the traditional red and green. Emily Herrig, Interior Staging Consultant and writer at Hello Sensible, looks at the space she is decorating to see what colors would go well with existing décor.
Because Herrig enjoys a modern look in her own home, she adds holiday decorations with silver and navy blue.
Understanding color balance is key to the perfect holiday décor. Some color combinations work better than others. It’s important to have harmony and ensure that colors match.
A color wheel is an excellent tool for determining which colors go best together. It showcases primary colors and their compliments and helps you pick an appealing motif based on color theory.
Some colors are soothing, while others give off a certain warmth. Different shades of the same color may give different feelings. Warm colors may arouse happiness and optimism, while cool colors suggest calm.
Although typically reds, yellows, and oranges are associated with warmth and blues, greens, and purples are associated with cold, different shades of each can lean towards the other side. Choose a more neutral blue with hints of orange if you want to use blue while maintaining a warm atmosphere.
Christmas Color Trends
Sometimes we want our home to look like it stepped out of a magazine, and the best way to do that is to follow modern trends while decorating.
Alicia Richards, the owner of home décor resource For the Love of Decorating, says we are seeing a return to classic Christmas colors in darker hues this year. She recommends choosing burgundy, forest greens, and gold as your primary three colors this year.
Wilson agrees but also indicates that we can expect to see blues and whites in the stores. She says that adding blue to your color palette adds a pop of color, and reminds us that most blue hues will work. Dark navy blue is an excellent choice for a warm, muted motif, while light blue goes well with bright silvers and golds.
Christmas Color Palette Ideas
If you need assistance figuring out the perfect Christmas palette for your home this year, check out these ideas from Pinterest.
1. This warm palette offers traditional Christmas colors in warm, muted forest greens and deep reds. The neutral oranges and browns give the décor an earthy feel.
2. A winter wonderland palette offering varying shades of cool blue to represent cold and ice, with a pop of red to draw the eye.
3. Embody the spirit of joy this Christmas with a bright, festive color scheme.
4. Stick to tradition with cheerful reds and greens balanced by a hint of black
5. This color scheme showcases how the same colors can have vastly different effects depending on whether they are brilliant or muted. Though the colors are nearly the same as in the previous palette, they are less saturated and warmer, giving vastly different feelings.
More Color Schemes
This pin showcases six more examples of Christmas color schemes you can consider for your decorating needs.
Embrace the Holiday Spirit with Whichever Palette You Choose!
You don’t have to stick with traditional Christmas colors when decorating the holidays. Choose a color palette that speaks to you, and enjoy a festive holiday season!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.