Have you ever wondered why red and green are the traditional colors of Christmas? Here’s the skinny.
The early Pagans celebrated a festival honoring Saturnalia, birth of the invincible sun, during the winter solstice. The Roman church was trying to win over the Pagans so they decided while the Pagans were already in a party mood they would set the official date for celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25th. So, the church presented The Paradise Play, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They needed to set the stage and since there weren’t any apple trees available at this time of year, they fastened apples to the branches of a pine tree which was to represent the Tree of Good and Evil. Red symbolized the blood of Jesus and green was the color of the potential for eternal life. The Christmas tree and these traditional colors then became common practice and used in Christmas displays each year thereafter. Following the church’s example, people began assembling pine trees in their homes and decorating them with red apples. This introduced two modern traditions: the Christmas tree and our seasonal colors, green for the pine tree and red for the apples. Holly, which consists of green leaves and red berries, is meant to incorporate both red and green to symbolize life and blood. As far back as Roman times the holly was brought in to decorate homes during Saturnalia. Holly was brought into Celtic homes to protect the occupants from ill-meaning faeries or to shelter spirits that the druids believed inhabited the tree’s sacred branches. So, there you have it. Have a Merry Holly Red and Green Christmas.