The combination of bright red and green over the holidays can be offensive. What if the green was a beautiful olive green hue with highlights of cranberry crimson? However as an artist, I’ve been force fed the traffic light like offensive combination. As a result, it starting me thinking: how and why was this particular color combination “picked” for the holidays and so prevalent in America…
Searching for the reasons wasn’t an easy task. According to wiki.answers.com: “Red – Christ’s blood shed for our sin on the cross. (John 19:34) and Green – Eternal life in Christ. (John 3:16-17).” As a result, this color combination appears to have roots in the Bible and beyond. Thanks wiki.answers.com for all the answers to life and beyond (eye roll).
Anyways, the green holiday tree idea goes back even further. According to The History Channel: “The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death. Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs. In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.”
From Kermit the Frog’s It’s Not Easy Being Green to Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and Jim Dine’s Blue Clamp painting hanging at the SFMOMA (http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/111), the colors red and green appear in popular culture. However, in other countries the colors have different meanings. Red in India means purity, celebration in China, and life in Japan. Green in China means infidelity, fertility in Egypt, and danger in Malaysia. In the United States, green means go and money while red means stop and danger. Combine both and pick up festive tortilla chips at the local grocery store to make your holiday party perfect (eye roll again).
My choice for holiday hues would be a beautiful marine translucent aqua blue with accents of warm copper and a dash of pearl iridescent white. I can only wish for that combination next year. Anyways, I will have to endure the shades of neon green and bright red. Meanwhile, have a safe, happy, and colorful holidays!