Colors of Easter

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By VICKI BROWN

vbrown@lowcountry.com

Easter is the time of year when pastels and select vibrant colors appear on dyed eggs, candy, decorations and on our seasonal or new clothes. These colors actually have special meaning and come from Christian beliefs that are the reason for celebrating the season - the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Easter’s has representational liturgical colors. A liturgy is “a rite or form prescribed for public worship,” and the colors we associate with particular Christian liturgies date back to medieval times. 

The typical colors of Easter involve shades of red, black, white, pink, purple and gold. These colors were mainly derived from Pope Innocent III who lived in the late 1100s.

The Pope outlined the symbolism of each color in a treatise he wrote discussing the interpretations of colors and flowers taken from the Old Testament book, Song of Solomon. The symbolic colors are traditionally worn in Roman Catholic churches by the priests. The colors have been adopted by several other Christian denominations, including the Anglican and Lutheran churches. These include the colors we presently associate with Easter.

Red symbolizes the blood of Christ. Red represents sacrifice, blood, fire, and martyrdom, and it is most used during Pentecost, which falls on the 50th day after Easter and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit. 

Black is used as a symbol of mourning, sadness, fasting, mercy, and penance, which are especially appropriate during the period of Lent to remember Christ’s death on the cross as a sacrifice to save the world from sin.

Purple symbolizes remorse, humility and sorrow for Jesus’ suffering. This is why you will frequently see this color on cloths draped over crosses. This is associated with Lent, a time of sacrifice that also marks the upcoming resurrection of the Lord.

White is a symbol of purity, innocence, light, holiness, joy and future glory. This color is used during all feasts that God instituted in the Old Testament and that Jesus celebrated while on earth. At Easter it symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ. All through the Bible this color is mentioned in regards to angels, the star over Bethlehem, Light of the world, and white Lamb of God. This color has passed on to include secular Easter objects such as Easter lilies, the white bunny and undyed egg.

Green. When Easter is over, priests wear green vestments. Green represents Christ’s resurrection and growing in the Christian faith that leads to eternal life.

Pink. At Easter time, pink symbolizes the color of the sky at dawn when a new day begins joyfully with fresh hope.

Gold. During the Easter season, gold and yellow represents glory and triumph of heaven. This specifically applies to Jesus’ resurrection after he triumphed over death.

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