While many of us picture joyous pastels, neon-dipped eggs and cotton-white tails on stuffed rabbits when we think of Easter, the colors used when celebrating this holiday are deeply symbolic and spiritual. A time for renewal and rebirth, spring awakens the natural colors of the earth by calling forth the unfolding of daffodils, lilies and tulips after their long, underground winter slumbers. We all know that Easter is a time to dye eggs and pick flowers. However, we may not be aware of why color is such an important component of this religious feast. Let’s spill the jellybeans on the real meanings behind Easter colors.
Easter Colors Are Liturgical Colors
Yes, most of the “pretty” colors that we associate with Easter are richly symbolic hues that have been chosen by the Catholic Church to embody the essence of the Easter holiday. In particular, a document created by Pope Innocent III in 1198 called the Mystery of the Sacred Altar plays a big role in the colors we see everywhere from the Church altar to the store aisles. Over the years, traditional liturgical colors have merged with the naturally bright colors of the spring season to make Easter one of the peppiest, most cheerful holidays. Let’s go on a little “Easter egg hunt” to discover what all of the common Easter colors really mean.
Purple is a color that plays a very important role in the period leading up to Easter called Lent that is celebrated by billions of Christians around the world. Commemorating the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, Lent spans the 40 days lasting from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. If you happen to walk into a church during Lent, you may notice the use of purple drapings and vestments. A symbol of royalty, purple is used during Lent specifically to symbolize penance, humility and sorrow for the suffering of “Christ the King.”
When you see red tulips and eggs on display during Easter, that rosy hue symbolizes the red blood of Christ for Christians as they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus that is depicted in the Gospels. While red isn’t used all that commonly in Easter décor, it tends to be displayed more frequently during Pentecost. Pentecost is the celebration that takes place 50 days after Easter to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit.
Often depicted as a white hare, the Easter Bunny’s coat possesses important symbolism. White is a color that represents innocence and purity. It can also symbolize the blinding glory of God.
Known as one of the most classic Easter colors, pink represents joy and love. Most of us think of the beautiful petals on tulips when we picture shades of “Easter pink.” However, the symbolism goes much deeper. Traditionally, clergy wear pink vestments on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The purpose is to remind the faithful to remain joyful during times of penance.
Don’t toss out the shredded green Easter grass that’s buried in your basket quite so fast. Green holds an important place in the celebration of this holiday. The obvious connection is that green represents the actual budding grass of the spring season. Liturgically, green represents hope in eternal life.
White and Gold
While not as popular as pastels when it comes to mainstream Easter décor, white and gold are actually the official liturgical colors of Easter Sunday. At Easter mass, priests will wear white and gold vestments to symbolize the birth and resurrection of Christ. While the white represents the unblemished nature of Christ, the glimmering gold is a representation of the glory and triumph of the resurrection. This realization provides inspiration to really go all out by dipping your Easter eggs in some sparkling gold paint.
Why Are Pastels Associated With Easter?
It’s clear to see that liturgical colors and the natural beauty of spring have merged to create a season of bright colors, joy and hopeful anticipation. However, you may still be wondering why Easter is specifically associated with bright pastel colors. The answer is quite joyful. Pastel hues are used in Easter celebrations because they symbolize the sheer joy that Mary Magdalene and the other women from the Gospels experienced when they discovered that the tomb of Jesus was empty on Easter morning.
Easter Colors Are the Colors of Life
While you don’t need to be religious to enjoy the beautiful colors of Easter, it can be interesting to learn about their origins. For those who celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, knowing the history of Easter colors can be a great way to incorporate these richly symbolic and spiritual colors in your celebration. The most exciting thing of all for everyone is that all of nature seems to erupt in the colors of Easter to surround us with feelings of joy and hopeful anticipation.