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The Significance of Color in Christian Symbolism

The meanings associated with color in Christian worship, art, architecture and design are summarized as follows:

Yellow
This is the symbol of light and purity. It speaks of youth, happiness, the harvest, hospitality, love and benevolence. But since it is also taken as off-white, it can be the color of degradation or cowardice.

Orange
Symbolic of endurance and strength, orange is the color of fire and flame. it represents the red of passion tempered by the yellow of wisdom. It is the symbol of the sun.

Green
Green symbolizes the breaking of shackles, freedom from bondage. It is the color of fertility. In the Christian context, it represents bountifulness, hope and the victory of life over death. It is one of the colors associated with Christmas, and the long season of the Trinity in summer.

Red
Signifies action, fire, charity, spiritual awakening. It also glorifies the sun and the joy of life and love. In the Christian symbolism, it denotes Holy Spirit. It is the color of Pentecost.

Black
Said to represent the absolute, constancy, eternity or the womb, black may also denote death, fear and ignorance. Black is the liturgical color of Good Friday.

Brown
Brown is symbolic of the earth and was often the color of a monks robe, signifying humility and God's connection with the commonplace and the ordinary.

Blue
Blue signifies the blue skies or the life-giving air and often signifies hope or good health. It is an alternate color for the season of Advent.

White
Purity, virginity, innocence, and birth, are symbolized with this color. White is the liturgical color of Christmas and Easter.

Purple
Purple speaks of fasting, faith, patience and trust. It is the liturgical color used during seasons of penance, Advent and Lent.

More Symbols of Christianity: 

Index of Christian Symbols

The Human Body as a Symbol of the Sacred
The body as a symbol of the sacred

The Face of Jesus as a Symbol of Faith
The Face of Jesus as a symbolic construct.

Pop Christianty
Pray, How Often? Pop culture and commerical images in service to the Christian faith ... or is it Christianity in service to commercialism? You decide.

The symbolic power of simple shapes
Even shapes are symbolic in Christianity.

The significance of color in Christian symbolism
The meaning of color in Christian symbolism

Food symbols in Christian tradition
Food symbols in Christian tradition

Doves, Eagles, and Sparrows
Doves, Eagles, and Sparrows ... birds as symbols of the divine.

The Fish
The fish has been an important Christian symbol, not only because of the fact that Jesus included several fishermen in his close circle, but also because The initial letters of each word in the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior" form the word ICHTHUS, which means "fish."

Christian ship symbols
Christian ship symbols

The Ankh Cross
The Ankh Cross is an ancient Egyptian symbol for life, combining the feminine circle and masculine staff to form the whole. It was adapted by early Christians because of its resemblance to the cross.

The Jerusalem Cross
Jerusalem Cross

The Maltese Cross
The Maltese Cross

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles Henderson.