Do you know what traditional Christmas colours are? And what does each colour represent? Most of the colours and their meanings come from the Western European traditions and customs.
One of the main symbols of Christmas is the Christmas Tree. For thousands of years people have decorated their homes with evergreen plants such as Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe because they remind people that winter will not last forever.
The Romans exchanged 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 festivals.
So, green colour symbolizes everlasting life.
holly [´hɔli] – падуб
ivy [´aivi] – плющ
mistletoe [´misltəu] – омела
palm [pɑ:m] – пальмовая ветвь
Christmas Tree Legend
According to an ancient legend a travelling man called St Boniface was passing through a forest one December, when he came across a group of people who were having some kind of pagan religious ceremony. St Boniface was horrified that a small boy was going to be offered up as a human sacrifice to one of their pagan gods. He was just about to be put on a roaring fire when St Boniface rushed in and snatched the little boy away. Then picking up an axe, he chopped down a huge oak tree which stood nearby. As it fell to the ground, a tiny young fir appeared out of the ground in the space where the mighty oak had stood.
“From now on”, said St Boniface, “this little tree will be a holly symbol. It’s the sign of everlasting life because its leaves are still green when everything else seemed dead around it. Moreover, it will always point upwards to heaven. From this day, this little tree will be called the Christmas tree”.
to come across – натыкаться (случайно набрести)
to horrify [´hɔrifai] – ужасать, шокировать
to rush [rʌʃ] – бросаться, мчаться, устремляться
to snatch [snætʃ] – хватать, вырывать, похищать
to chop – рубить топором, наносить резкий удар
to point – указывать, обращать внимание
pagan [´peiɡ(ə)n] – языческий
sacrifice [´sækrifais] – жертва
roaring [´rɔ:riŋ] – ревущий (об огне)
axe [æks] – топор
oak [əuk] – дуб
fir [fə:] – ель
might [´maiti] – могучий, сильный
sign [saiŋ] – знак, символ
heaven [´hev(ə)n] – небеса, рай
Red is said to represent the blood of Jesus Christ when he died on the cross. It is also a colour of Holly berries and Bishops robes. These would have been worn by St Nicholas and then also became Santa’s uniform!
The Legend of Christmas Star
When the Savior was born everybody wanted to see him and give some presents. The three Wise Men brought expensive presents for Baby Jesus to welcome him into this world. Gaspar brought frankincense, Melchior brought gold and Balthazar brought myrrh. A poor shepherdess Madelon also was eager to see the Child but had nothing to offer to him. She felt very helpless and started crying quietly. An angel was watching over her and decided to help the girl with a little miracle. He gently brushed aside the snow at her feet and where her tears had fallen a wonderful cluster of red winter roses appeared. Then he whispered into her ear that these Christmas roses are more valuable than any myrrh, frankincense and gold because they are pure and made of love.
Perhaps this legend originated just to teach people that, no matter what you gift, it must be from the heart and soul.
myrrh [mɜ:] – мирра (церк. ароматическая смола)
frankincense [´fræŋkinsens] – ладан
gold – золото
shepherdess [´ʃepədes] – пастушка
miracle [´mirəkl] – чудо
cluster [´klʌstə] – куст, пучок, скопление
to whisper [´wispə] – шептать
valuable [´væljuəbl] – ценный, дорогостоящий
As mentioned above, gold was one of the presents which one of the Wise Men brought to the Infant Jesus and traditionally is used to show the star that the Wise Men followed. Also it is the colour that represents the Sun, light and fire that people need to warm their houses in winter.
This colour represents the sky and heaven.
The colour blue is also associated with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In medieval times blue paint was more expensive than gold! Mary was usually painted in blue clothes to show she was very important.
White is the colour of purity and peace. The winter snow is also white.
Most churches cover their altars with white cloth at Christmas.
(In the Russian Orthodox Church gold is used for Christmas.)
If your kids like painting, you may use these colourings to make your classes more enjoyable.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know,
Where the treetops glisten, and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write:
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.