by Joyce Kohl

Over the centuries, colors have been used for signifying meanings in heraldry, given to the months of the year and the seasons, religious symbolism, and for everything from weddings to babies. Florists are quick to tell us red roses mean love. We use color to describe emotions. And how about “once in a blue moon everything goes all right” or “it’s a red-letter day.”

Color in Religious Symbolism
White: Symbol of light; signifies purity; joy and glory
Red: Symbol of fire and blood; signifies charity
Blue: Symbol of heaven; signifies truth
Green: Symbol of nature; signifies hope of eternal life
Purple: Signifies sorrow and suffering
Black: Signifies death

Color in Heraldry
Yellow or Gold: Honor and loyalty
Silver or White: Faith and purity
Red: Bravery and courage
Black: Grief and sorrow
Green: Youth and hope
Purple: High rank and royalty
Orange: Strength and endurance
Red-purple: Sacrifice

Spring is pink and green
Summer is yellow and blue
Autumn is orange and brown
Winter is red and black

January is black and white. Its birthstone is the Garnet which signifies constancy
February is deep blue. Its birthstone is the Amethyst which signifies sincerity
March is gray or silver. Its birthstone is the Aquarmarine which signifies courage
April is yellow. Its birthstone is the Diamond which signifies innocence
May is lavender or lilac. Its birthstone is Emerald which signifies love and success
June is pink or rose. Its birthstone is the Pearl which signifies health
July is sky blue. Its birthstone is the Ruby which signifies contentment
August is deep green. Its birthstone is the Periodot which signifies married happiness
September is orange or gold. Its birthstone is the Sapphire which signifies clear thinking
October is brown. Its birthstone is the Opal which signifies hope
November is purple. Its birthstone is the Topaz which signfies fidelity
December is red. Its birthstone is the Turquoise which signfies prosperity

Hidden Meanings
White is associated with peace and purity such as in the white clouds and sparkling snowflakes. Two of the most popular peace symbols are the white dove and the truce flag. Brides traditionally wear white which is still the color for brides. White is the color worn in the summer months because of its ability to deflect the heat.

Because red is the color of blood, it is associated with strength, health, and passion. For example, we admire rosy cheeks. Then there is the “Scarlet Letter” signifying a fallen and sinful woman; the red dress is also associated with the “ladies of the night.”

The light blue of the sky is the color associated with calmness and with healing. When our primitive ancestors looked upon the light blue of a new day, they felt safe after shuddering in the fear of the previous night of darkness and the dangers within it. People who are ill feel at ease when seeing each new light blue sky, and take comfort in knowing they’ve made it through another long night. A dark blue sky signifies the coming of another night and sometimes a storm. Dark blue has long been associated with power and authority as attested to by the color of the uniforms of policeman – as well as other careers and professionals. There are the military uniforms, the cape of an RN, and countless others. Blue has long been associated as the color for baby boys.

Purple was first associated with royalty because of its rarity and expense. That’s how the color became a symbol of wealth and power. Why is the medal given to our wounded service people called a “Purple Heart?” My best guess is that it symbolizes the power of the wounded person to survive.

The color of cool, soft grass, plants and trees is green. Green is the color of growth and has come to symbolize prosperity. Green is used in hospitals because it’s thought to be easier on the eyes and to help lower the stress levels of both patients and health-care people. In recent years, green has signified hospitals (think about the phrase “looking a little green”), and some hospitals are now switching to cool blues. Yellow-green, the color of sick plants, is now associated with sickness or impending death.

“Sunshine yellow” immediately makes one feel joyous. Although ancients believed the sun brought knowledge as well as light, the brightness of the sun bringing brightness of the mind is a reasonable explaination for yellow signifying the mind and the intellect.

Combining the purity of white and the the passion of red gives us pink – the color of gentle love and desire. Pink is the color associated with baby girls, and is the color of many newborn animals. Pink signifies gentleness, and new birth.

When a day changes into night and before the dark blue covering appears, the sunset is orange. Orange symbolizes change and flexibility, and in recent years is associated with good health due to the huge amounts of orange juice consumed.

Are Colors Significant?
Only for the sighted or only if one isn’t color-blind. For those of us blessed with sight, we’ve been taught that colors can make us feel good, excite us, generate fear and joy, or literally make us nauseated. As long as we attach a certain meaning to a particular color, the legends of colors will continue to persist.

Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun, or taste a “red-hot” candy, or feel the fear of thunder and the crackle of lightning. Hold a newborn baby in your arms. Feel a squiggly puppy or kitten. The next time you attend a wedding, close your eyes to shut out any color. Is the wedding any less meaningful? Colorless raindrops need not be seen or heard to know they give renewed life to the earth or feel wonderful on your skin. What we feel inside doesn’t require color.