| gardening | Why Are Green and Red Christmas Colors? These two major colors of Christmas have ages of traditions and customs attached to them. Also, they are based on colors found in nature. Green Green has a long tradition as a holiday color. The ancient Egyptians decorated their homes with palm branches and used them in their mid-winter festivals. Ancient Romans honored the god Saturn between December 17 and December 23. During the celebration, they decorated their homes with holly and evergreen trees. Also, evergreen branches, mistletoe, holly, and ivy were exchanged as a sign of good luck at the beginning of each new year. Holly dates back to ancient winter solstice cele- brations. Its bright green leaves with their sharp nee- dles made up the crown of thorns worn by Jesus on the way to his crucifixion. A legend has it that holly berries were originally white but turned red when Christ’s blood fell upon them. In the middle ages, “paradise” plays - plays about the creation of paradise, the Garden of Eden, and celestial paradise – were often performed on Christmas Eve in many parts of Europe. In such plays, the “paradise tree” of the Garden of Eden was an evergreen tree adorned with red apples. A Nativity story about rosemary made it part of the holiday tradition, long ago. The story told of the Christ Child’s clothing being dried upon a rose- mary bush. The aroma of rosemary filling a room was considered good luck. Rosemary is often pruned as a topiary for holiday decoration. 62 December 2018 - January 2019 Thomasville Scene Christmas trees, pine and other evergreen wreaths, stairway, mantle, and doorway swags, and many more decorations represent our current use of green as our most frequently used holiday color. Red One early use of red at Christmas involves the red apples on the paradise trees mentioned above. They signified the fall of Adam and Eve in the para- dise plays. Holly berries are red and have long been asso- ciated with the blood of Christ when he perished on the cross. Their bright red contrasts magnificently with their bright green foliage. Traditional poinsettias, one of the most popular Christmas plants, have gorgeous red leaves. Plants with red flowers, such as Christmas cactus, amaryl- lis, and cyclamen, have been used to celebrate the holiday, also.