Page 18 - 2017-12-16_june_july_2009.qxd
P. 18

18                                      The Colors of Christmas

            The Colors of Christmas

          There are several colors which are traditionally
          associated with Christmas. This site uses Red,
          Green and Gold. But why do we have them and
          what do the colors represent?
                 Most the colors and their meanings come
          from the western/northern European traditions
          and customs, when Christmas is in the middle of
          winter and it's dark and cold.


          Evergreen plants, like Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe
          have been used for thousands of years to
          decorate and brighten up buildings during the
          long dark winter.  They also reminded people
          that spring would come and that winter wouldn't
          last forever!
                 The Romans would exchange evergreen
          branches during January as a sign of good luck.
          The ancient Egyptians used to bring palm
          branches into their houses during the mid winter
                 In many parts of Europe during the
                                                         White is used by most churches as the color of  although there has never been any proof of this!
          middle ages, Paradise plays were performed,
                                                         Christmas, when the altar is covered with a     A lot of Churches have midnight services on
          often on Christmas Eve. They told Bible stories
                                                         white cloth (in the Russian Orthodox Church     Christmas Eve, although not every church will
          to people who couldn't read. The 'Paradise Tree'
                                                         Gold is used for Christmas).                    have a mass or communion as part of the
          in the garden of eden in the play was normally a                                               service.
          pine tree with red apples tied to it.
                 Now the most common use of green at Blue                                                       In many Catholic countries such as
                                                                                                         France, Spain and Italy, the midnight mass
          Christmas are Christmas Trees.
                                                                                                         service is very important and everyone tries to
                                                         The color blue is often associated with Mary, the  go to a service.
          Red                                            mother of Jesus. In medieval times blue dye and        In  Victorian times, it was very
                                                         paint was more expensive than gold! So it would  fashionable to go carol singing with small
                                                         only be worn by Royal families and very rich
          As mentioned above, an early use of red at                                                     handbells to play the tune of the carol.
                                                         people. Mary was often painted wearing blue to
          Christmas were the apples on the paradise tree.                                                Sometimes there would only be the bells and no
                                                         show she was very important.
          They represented the fall of Adam in the plays.                                                singing! Handbell ringing is still popular today.
                                                                 Blue can also represent the color of the
                 Red is also the color of Holly berries,
                                                         sky and heaven.
          which is said to represent the blood of Jesus                                                   The Tradition of Mistletoe
                                                                 During  Advent, purple and sometimes
          when he died on the cross.
                                                         blue is used in most churches fort he color of the          at Christmas
                 Red is also the color of Bishops robes.
                                                         altar cloth (in the Russian Orthodox Church red
          These would have been worn by St. Nicholas     is used for advent). []
          and then also became Santa's uniform!                                                          Mistletoe is a plant that grows on range of trees
                                                                                                         including willow, apple and oak trees.  The
                                                            Traditions of Christmas
          Gold                                                                                           tradition of hanging it in the house goes back to
                                                                            Bells                        the times of the ancient Druids. It is supposed to
                                                                                                         possess mystical powers which bring good luck
          Gold is the color of the Sun and light - both very
                                                                                                         to the household and wards off evil spirits. It
          important in the dark winter. And both red and  Bells,  especially   Church     Bells,  have   was also used as a sign of love and friendship in
          gold are the colors of fire that you need to keep  traditionally been associated with Christmas for  Norse mythology and that's where the custom of
          you warm.                                      a long time. In the  Anglican and Catholic      kissing under Mistletoe comes from.
                 Gold was also one of the presents       churches, the church day starts at sunset, so any
                                                                                                                When the first Christians came to
          brought to the baby Jesus by one of the wise   service after that is the first service of the day.  Western Europe, some tried to ban the use of
          men and traditionally it's the color used to show  So a service on Christmas Eve after sunset is  Mistletoe as a decoration in Churches, but many
          the star that the wise men followed.           traditionally the first service of Christmas day!  still continued to use it! York Minster Church in
                 Silver is sometimes used instead of (or  In churches that have a Bell or Bells, They are
          with) gold. But gold is a 'warmer' color.      often rung to signal the start of this service.  the UK used to hold a special Mistletoe Service
                                                                                                         in the winter, where wrong doers in the city of
                                                                 In some churches in the UK, it is
                                                                                                         York could come and be pardoned.
                                                         traditional that the largest bell in the church is
          White                                                                                                 The custom of kissing under Mistletoe
                                                         rung four times in the hour before midnight and
                                                                                                         comes from England. The original custom was
                                                         then at midnight all the bells are rung in
                                                                                                         that a berry was picked from the sprig of
                                                         celebration.                                    Mistletoe before the person could be kissed and
          White is often associated with purity and peace        In the Catholic Church, Christmas and   when all the berries had gone, there could be no
          in western cultures. The snow of winter is also  Easter are the only times that Mass is allowed to  more kissing!
          very white!                                    be held at Midnight. It's traditional that at both     The name mistletoe comes from two
                                                         midnight Masses, the church and altar bells too  Anglo Saxon words 'Mistel' (which means dung)
          White paper wafers were also sometimes used to  in many cases are rung while the Priest says the
          decorate paradise trees. The wafers represented  "Gloria" (Gloria in excelsis Deo).            and 'tan' (which means) twig or stick! So you
                                                                                                         could translate Mistletoe as 'poo on a stick'!!!
          the bread eaten during Christian Communion or          Having a Mass at Midnight at Christmas  Not exactly romantic is it!
          Mass, when Christians remember that Jesus died  dates back to the early church, when it was           Mistletoe was also hung on the old
          for them.                                      believed that Jesus was born at midnight,
                                                                                                         English decoration the Kissing Bough.
   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23