How Red and Green Became Christmas Colors

When you think of the holiday season, what do you picture? Santa, festive trees, twinkling lights… ribbons and bows in red, green, and gold? It’s no secret the most popular Christmas colors are red and green. But why those particular colors?

Discover the unique origin story behind some of our favorite Christmas colors! From its religious symbolism to global customs, find out how various cultures over the centuries have contributed to the vibrant red and green we know today.


A Brief History of Christmas

If you’re not familiar with the history of Christmas, you might be surprised to learn our current take on the holiday season is a relatively recent tradition.

Today’s holiday is a Christian adaptation of pagan celebrations in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year, and pagans believed the spirits of those who died during the past year would return to Earth on this day.

Christmas Colors and Their Meaning: 3 Theories

So, what is the meaning and story behind the traditional Christmas colors? And why all the red and green? You’ll have a holly jolly time reading about three fascinating theories.

#1: Green Was a Key Color During Ancient Winter Solstice Celebrations

Holly played a significant role in ancient Roman celebrations of the winter solstice. The Romans decorated holly branches with candles and hung them over doorways to welcome back their sun god. In addition, they drank wine, prepared feasts, and exchanged gifts.

The Romans were also the first to decorate fir trees, which they’d keep in their homes through the new year. They would adorn their trees with apples, nuts, and other fruits, symbolizing fertility and prosperity.


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#2: Celtics Relied on Holly to Bring Good Fortune During the Bleak Days of Mid-Winter

Many scholars believe decorating with green holly stems from the ancient Celtic tradition. According to their lore, holly was sacred because it helped protect against evil spirits during long winter nights.

The red berries on this evergreen plant were also used as decoration during midwinter festivals to celebrate the coming of springtime. Ancient Celts believed these berries brought happiness and good fortune during the dark days of mid-winter when life seemed bleakest.

Coca Cola Santa Christmas

#3: Coca-Cola’s Rendering of Santa Forever Changed Christmas

It’s easy to forget that before Coca-Cola came along and rendered Santa Claus a jolly older man in red, he was often depicted as a blue-clad monk.

The company’s advertising agency, McCann-Erickson, decided to depict Santa Claus drinking Coca-Cola in their holiday ads. The first ad ran in 1931, featuring a cartoon version of Santa Claus sitting on the edge of a rooftop and drinking a Coke while his reindeer enjoyed some ice-cold refreshments. The caption read: “Santa Claus loves coke.”

The soda company has used the same Santa Claus in its ad campaigns since then, but it wasn’t until 1971 that the company put him front and center on its cans. From there, Santa’s face—and red coat—has become synonymous with Christmas around the world.

Enjoy the Christmas Colors and Get in the Holiday Spirit at Kersey Valley!

If you’re looking for the perfect place to bask in all the joy of Christmas, bring your friends and family to Kersey Valley. Yes, there will be plenty of red and green. You’ll also find Santa, the Grinch, train rides, reindeer, and so much more.


Make Kersey Valley Christmas Your Family’s Favorite Holiday Tradition!


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