MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This time of year, we see beautiful decorations in stores, in our homes, on our streets — and two colors tend to dominate the decor.

So, Debb from Hutchinson wants to know: Why are red and green the colors of Christmas? Good Question.

David Landry teaches religious studies at the University of St. Thomas.

“We have a lot of different accounts of how it came to be,” he said. “Like so many traditions, there’s no definitive answer.”

But he did offer up a few theories scholars have come up with over the years. The first one involves the crown of thorns — the holly — placed on Jesus’ head leading up to the crucifixion.

“The berries were white when they were put on Jesus’ head, and then they turned red as a consequence of the blood that was spilled,” Landry said.

There was one theory that Landry thinks is most probable. It has to do with the colors green and red as a prop in a play dating back to the 14th century.

“One of these plays was the Paradise play — the fall of Adam and Eve,” he said. “The traditional date for that was Dec. 24.”

The apple was red, and the prop was a tree.

“You couldn’t use an apple tree, because the apple trees weren’t in season and the trees were bare,” Landry continued. “So they would use an evergreen tree, like a pine, and then they would decorate it with apples.”

There is another theory that stems from St. Nicholas, who morphed into Santa Claus. St. Nick was a bishop and red was the color of bishops. Green, on the other hand, symbolizes eternal life.

Heather Brown

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