Colors have strong symbolic associations that sometimes date back thousands of years. Most color symbolism comes from nature. Green, for instance, symbolizes nature, and gold symbolizes the sun. Blue symbolizes the sky, but also spirituality as heaven is thought to be in the sky.
As red is the color of blood, it symbolizes life itself. Red is active and symbolizes energy, aggression, war, fire, emotions, passion, joy, vitality, and strength. Because of this, red also has sexual connotations. Prostitutes advertise their services with a red light, and “scarlet” women are said to be promiscuous. Red can also symbolize anger and rage, as the phrase “seeing red” indicates. In ancient Egypt, red and orange symbolized the sun god, Ra. In Buddhism, red is the color of creativity and life. In Christianity, red is a sacrificial color, symbolizing Christ’s passion.
Orange symbolizes fertility, love, luxury, and comfort. In China and Japan, orange symbolizes love and happiness. Oranges are eaten on the second day of the Chinese New Year to attract good luck in the coming year.
Yellow symbolizes sunlight, strength, laughter, and the joys of life. St. Peter is often depicted wearing yellow robes. However, there is another side to yellow. It has long been associated with cowardice and betrayal. This is why Judas Iscariot is often shown wearing yellow robes, and cowards are said to be “yellow.” Yellow is a sacred color in Buddhism, and their monks wear saffron robes. Gautama Buddha deliberately chose the color yellow, which had previously been worn by criminals, to symbolize his humility and detachment from the materialistic world. In Hinduism, yellow symbolizes light, truth, and immortality.
Green symbolizes balance and healing. Around the world, it symbolizes fertility, re-birth, renewal, spring, youth, and growth. Green is a sacred color in Islam. This is because the Prophet is never depicted as a person, but is believed to be present in every part of nature.
Blue symbolizes love, sincerity, faith, honesty, and hope. It also relates to purity, eternity, devotion, chastity, and spirituality. Because of its close connection with spirituality, many sky gods were associated with the color blue. These include the Egyptian Amun, the Greek Zeus, the Roman Jupiter, and the Hindu gods Indra, Vishnu, and Krishna (who also had blue skin). In Christian art, the Virgin Mary is usually shown wearing blue. In Buddhism, blue symbolizes wisdom and the peace and calm of the heavens. In the Hebrew tradition, blue symbolizes mercy.
Purple symbolizes intuition and imagination. The ancient Romans associated it with dignity and power as purple was worn by high priests, magistrates, and military leaders. A son born to a reigning sovereign is said to be “born to the purple.” When a priest becomes a cardinal, he is “raised to the purple.” In Christianity, purple symbolizes the mystery of the Lord’s passion, which is why it is used during Lent.
White is the color of purity, truth, innocence, and virginity, which explains why many brides choose a white wedding dress. White is also the color of initiation. The word “candidate” comes from the Latin word for “shining white.” White has been considered a spiritual color since the founding of the Zoroastrian religion in the sixth century BCE. In Christian art, Jesus wore white robes after his resurrection. A white dove symbolizes peace and the Holy Spirit.
Black has always had negative connotations. It symbolizes death, sorrow, despair, and mourning. It is also related to evil and the “dark arts.” In ancient Egypt, black had more positive symbolism. Black cats were sacred. Anubis, who led souls to the afterlife, was black. Dark earth and black clouds symbolized germination, which takes place in the dark.