Anywhere you go in the United States on Memorial Day or Independence Day, and even on Veteran’s Day, you’ll see the bright, cheerful combination of red, white, and blue adorning homes, businesses, and even clothing. It’s the way that Americans all across the country show their patriotism and pride in this great country.
Many people also just love the look of this patriotic color combination, so it’s no surprise that you’re going to see it all over the place during these National holidays. Where did this color combination come from, and how did we wind up using it on everything from decorative pillows to banners, to our favorite t-shirts?
It may not surprise you that we’ll start by looking at the red, white, and blue colors of the American flag.
The Colors of the Flag
You’ve seen it, the American Flag. On the upper left, a blue rectangle with white stars, and red and white stripes adorning the rest of the body. How, though, did the colors of our flag come to be? Where did the stars and stripes come from?
Red and White Stripes
There are 13 red and white stripes on the American flag. They represent the original 13 colonies of the United States. This became the standard number in 1818, and it’s stayed that way since. In 1776, this was fairly easy, because there were 13 states, but the design kept having to be updated when new states were added.
For example, in 1795, when Kentucky and Vermont became states, the number of stripes was updated. For a time, there were 15 stripes. Then, in 1818, when Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, and Louisiana became states, updating the number of stripes on the flag became too difficult. This is why the 13 red and white stripes were made the standard.
The stripes are the same width, and red is always at the top of the flag.
The Blue Rectangle and White Stars
The blue rectangle at the top left corner of the American flag represents the Union, with 50 small white, 5-pointed stars within the blue background. The stars represent the states in the United States. They appear in nine rows that are offset. There are six stars on the top row, five on the second, and they continue to alternate in that pattern, with six stars in the bottom row.
Who Designed the Flag?
Many people don’t know it, but the American flag is holding strong in its 27th edition. Since 1777, this symbol of independence has been officially changed 26 times. The design with the stars on a blue background wasn’t approved by the Continental Congress until a year after the Declaration of Independence. In fact, before then, the first flag looked like the British East India Company flag.
While many people believe that Betsy Ross was the first seamstress of the American flag, this might not even be the truth. Many historians have found that there really is no evidence to support that she did create the first flag. It was her grandson who first told the story, which may have been untrue.
Some historians believe that Francis Hopkins, who was a New Jersey delegate to the Continental Congress, was the one who designed the flag, but this is also based on an invoice to the Board of Admiralty in 1780, for the design of the “flag of the United States of America.” However, as it turns out, he was not paid because others were consulted, as well.
So, it may just rest that the true designer of the American flag as we know it will remain a mystery for now.
What Do the Colors of the Flag Mean?
This is also mostly a mystery, but it is believed that red is meant to represent valor, blue for justice, and white for purity. However, there is no real proof for this idea, but it’s become a legend worth keeping around, and for many Americans, this belief is as good as the truth.
Why Decorate With These Colors for Patriotic Occasions?
There are many reasons why we might choose to use the colors of the flag for patriotic reasons, but one of the most common is that those who love to decorate for occasions will often use colors to draw a connection between their decorating choices and the occasion.
It could also be that the color combination is so complimentary. Red and blue are primary colors that contrast beautifully, with the white adding a dash of fresh that prevents the red and blue from becoming too overwhelming.
Many people just like the color combination and use it in their home decorating palettes during the whole year.
The colors of red, white, and blue also make people think of summer. Longer days, barbecues, and a string of patriotic holidays likely create the connection in the minds of most Americans, but many use it for more than just hanging buntings for a Fourth of July party.
The combination of blue and white is very common and can be a fairly neutral color palette. Perhaps, then, red is a natural addition when people want to add a pop of color. It can be a bit overwhelming on its own, but when added to the soothing tones of blue and white, it can serve as a perfect compliment to brighten a space and make it feel happy and warm.
You might find the color combination in bedding, with red flowers, blue and white stripes, and yellow backgrounds. On a blue and white striped couch, complimentary red pillows can give the bright happy feeling of summertime.
Decorating for Patriotic Parties
When you’re hosting a patriotic party, and you’re into decorating, you’re likely going to want to get the red, white, and blue color theme right. You don’t want to overdo it, but you want to acknowledge the holiday and the reason for the celebration.
There are lots of ways to make your party decorations stand out, and they don’t have to cost a fortune. From centerpieces of these classic colors to tablecloths, napkins, and plates, there are many different, inexpensive options out there.
If you’re not a fan of throwing paper plates away, consider classic red and blue plates, bowls, and drinkware, and consider using metal buckets decorated like the American flag for ice or as coolers.
Add flags to plants or walkways for a classic touch of Americana.
Using Red, White, and Blue for Your Home
Many who love to decorate seasonally can’t wait until Memorial Day. It’s a time that we can pull out all of our red, white, and blue and show our patriotism even if we aren’t having a party. You can show your patriotic side both inside and out in many different ways.
Show some love for the colors of the season by adding a red, white, and blue wreath or swag to your front door. If you’re crafty, make your own. If you’re not, there is no shortage of them out there. You can even find options that are made to your specifications, so you can show your love of country in your style.
Add patriotic pillows to outdoor seating, just make sure that you choose indoor/outdoor materials, or will have them in a sheltered space.
Consider planting red, white, and blue flowers in pots in your outdoor space to celebrate all three patriotic holidays, and for a lively touch of color.
There are so many ways to add red, white, and blue to your décor, but for many, the simplest is to get some indoor throw pillows decorated in patriotic colors. You might also find that plaques, blankets, welcome mats, rugs, and hand and dish towels are cost-effective options that can help you show your patriotic side.
Want to do more? There are many different options when it comes to bed and bath linens that you’re sure to find something that gives you the bright, cheerful summer feeling.
No matter where you want to add it, there is no denying that red, white, and blue are always the color combination of choice for patriotic celebrations. So why not show some love for the colors and the country and put your stamp on displaying these colors?