Why are Red and Green Associated with Christmas?

atkins bookshelf triviaThe traditional colors associated with Christmas, red and green, are due to two major influences: the colors of holly and the depiction of Santa Claus. Arielle Eckstut, co-author of The Secret Language of Color (2013), elaborates: “Holly has played a huge part in this red and green association. And it dates back to winter solstice celebrations with the Romans, and maybe beyond.”

The second influence was the depiction of Father Christmas (AKA Santa Claus) wearing red garments. When the Christmas Card was introduced in England in the mid 1800s, Father Christmas was drawn wearing blue, green, or red robes. Across the pond, American illustrators, began interpreting the jolly old elf described in Clement C. Moore’s poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” first published in a newspaper in 1823. Thomas Nast, a cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly, drew the iconic Santa that we all know today. The Santa that Nast drew for the January 3, 1863 issue featured a Santa dressed in an American flag. Beginning in early 1900s, White Rock Beverages (founded in Whitestone, New York in 1871) began using an image of Santa Claus dressed in red and white for its ads to promote mineral water (1915) and ginger ale (1923). The next beverage company to enlist the help of Santa was The Coca-Cola Company. In the early 1930s, the company commissioned American artist Haddon Sundblom to paint Santa, dressed in red and white, enjoying a cold bottle of Coca-Cola with the tagline “The Pause That Refreshes.” The first ad featuring Sundblom’s Santa appeared in 1931 in The Saturday Evening Post. (Some mistakenly believe that Sundblom chose the colors red and white to represent the corporate colors.) Although Sundblom is credited for creating the modern image of Santa Claus, that honor really begins to several artists, including the one commissioned by White Rock, to define the iconic image of Santa.

For further reading: Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus
Twas the Night Before Christmas
A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life
Best Quotes from A Christmas Story
The Inspiration for Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
The Story Behind Scrooge
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Trivia
Mall Santas by the Numbers

Read related: http://www.bevnet.com/news/2006/12-18-2006-white_rock_coke_santa_claus.asp

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