Symbolism behind colors

Anyone that has ever worked with a designer or artist can tell you that everything in a design is selected with care. Even something as simple as the color of a banner or background will have been looked over and chosen for a specific reason. In the Christian Church, colors are often used for symbolic reasons as well as aesthetic ones. A color can represent anything from an attribute to an emotion to even a person.

Most of the time the color used doesn’t have to be an exact shade or hue. It just needs to be a clear representation of that color. For example, a blue should not be dark enough to be confused with black nor should it be red enough to be confused with purple. Additional rules really only come into play when the design is some form of heraldry, such as a coat of arms. Heraldry is a broad topic though, so we’ll not get into that here.

The chart below explains what the Church may use some colors to represent.

Black Black is often associated with death, so it’s not real surprising than this color is used on Good Friday and for funerals. The typical meaning is also linked with death, namely mourning.
Blue While this color can represent Heaven and Heavenly love, it’s also associated with the Virgin Mary. During the Advent season, it might be used in place of the more commonly seen Violet.
Brown While Black represents the physical death, Brown represents spiritual death and rejection of the world.
Gray Gray is used to represent ashes. As such it signifies mourning or humility.
Green Since it’s the color of healthy plants, it’s not surprising that Green is used to represent nature, hope or life. It’s also traditionally used as the color of the vestments on days that aren’t a special church holiday.
Red This striking color can represent anything from fiery zeal to love as well as fire and blood. Red is also the color of vestments during Pentecost.
Violet (or purple) Representing remorse for sin, this color is often seen during Lent.
White The antonym of Black, White represents joy and purity. It’s frequently the color used at joyous occasions like weddings or during Christmastide.
Gold The color of one of the most precious of metals, Gold represents divinity and sacredness.
Pale Gold In its normal bold color Gold is divine or sacred, but when it’s pale the meaning twists to mean betrayal or deceit.
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