Color Guide: The Colors Associated With Emotions & Holidays

Share this article

In the visual arts space, we have primary colors and secondary colors (and then several hues and shades of each of those colors). But colors go beyond widely taught color theory classifications. Each color has its own meaning. Each represents certain emotions, values, and/or occasions.

Certain colors also are powerful marketing tools for retailers because different colors influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. In fact, 85% of consumers say color is the main reason why they buy a product.

Colors & The Emotion They Evoke

Before we explore the origins of the classic Christmas colors, let’s take a broad look at colors and the feelings they provoke. We’re going to look at these impacts from an ‘American’ perspective, or ‘Western’, but remember these associations vary widely by culture.

Color & Emotion - Red

RED — Red is attention-grabbing and provocative. It’s considered an emotionally intense color that enhances physical reactions. When we see it, our blood pressure and respiration rates rise. In retail, it’s a stimulator. Red gets people to make quick decisions, hence why most retail sale signs are red.

What industries should use red: Automotive and Food

Color & Emotion - Orange

ORANGE — Orange is a fun and playful color. Orange is a warm color, not as aggressive as red, but it still increases oxygen supply to the brain and rouses mental activity.

What industries should use orange: Health Care and Technology

Color & Emotion - Yellow

YELLOW — Yellow, being the color of the sun, creates a warm effect and stimulates happiness. It gives feelings of positivity, creativity, and motivation. Yellow is a good eye-catching color that communicates hope.

What industries should use yellow: Energy and Household

Colors & Holidays - Green

GREEN — Green evokes a feeling of safety and is often associated with money, especially a darker green, so it can mean greed and jealousy. Green is for health, wealth, and serenity.

What industries should use green: Finance and Energy

Color & Emotion - Blue

BLUE — Blue makes us feel tranquil and calm, slowing our metabolism when we see it. It’s secure, dependable, and trustworthy. Blue is one of the most popular choices for a brand because blue is a calming, at ease color.

What industries should use blue: Health Care and Airlines

Colors and emotions - violet

PURPLE — Purple is a royal, sophisticated, and spiritual color. It’s sometimes seen as a mysterious color as well.

What industries should use purple: Finance and Technology

Colors and emotions - Black

BLACK — Black relates to power, elegance, and death. It’s sophisticated, timeless, and prestigious. Sometimes when we see the color black, we feel grief or fear. When used with bright, warm colors, such as red, it’s a very aggressive color scheme.

What industries should use black: Automotive and Clothing

Colors and emotions - white

WHITE — White arouses feelings of safety, cleanliness, and success. It’s pure, clean, and soft.

What industries should use white: Health Care and Clothing

Color & Your Brand

Color is important to your brand’s identity. The right colors — ones that connect with your target market — keep your brand strong and easily recognizable. Because understands the importance of the relationship between your brand’s color and identity, we go above and beyond to give each of our clients the best possible match to the colors they need. Our staff uses their skills to make little modifications throughout the color matching process to give you that attention-grabbing red or peaceful blue you want.

Colors & Occasions

Colors don’t just impact a consumer’s purchase decision. They have great meaning in the retail world, but they’re also important when observing various occasions.

Patriotic Celebrations: Red, White & Blue

Colors and Holidays - Red White and Blue

On occasions like Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day, everything from our homes to our clothing is decked out in patriotic red, white, and blue. We do so to honor the colors in our American Flag and all they represent for our country, our men and women in the armed forces, and ourselves.

Red, white, and blue are forever emblazoned on the American flag because of what they represent, “White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valor, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”

Autumn Festivities: Orange & Black

Colors & Holidays - Orange and black

From October to the end of November, when Halloween and Thanksgiving celebrations are in full swing, we’re surrounded by oranges and blacks. For this time of year, the colors that represent it are partly drawn from nature and partly from culture.

As the trees explode in red, yellow, and, of course, orange shades, it’s not difficult to see where we began to associate orange with autumn and Halloween. We explained earlier how black commonly signifies death in Western cultures, which is exactly why we see so much of the spooky color when Halloween rolls around.

Spring & Easter: Pastels

Colors and holidays - pastels

As with orange and autumn, pastels for Easter are inspired by the colors that surround us in springtime. With grass poking up through the snow, flowers budding in the garden, and bluebirds chirping in the trees, pastels are all around us after spring has sprung.

We associate those pastel colors so strongly with springtime that the colors themselves have begun to represent growth, rebirth, and new beginnings. Which is why we often adorn our baby’s room with pastel hues of pink or blue.

Valentines Day: Pink & Red

Colors and Holidays - Red and Pinks

Vivid reds and flirty pinks conjure feelings of romance and love in almost all of us. Which is exactly why these colors come to the forefront for Valentine’s Day.

From chocolate boxes to stuffed bears holding plush red hearts, to those delicious conversation heart candies, everything gets a rosy glow. As we described earlier, our blood pressure and respiration rates rise when we see the color red. Sounds a lot like love, right?

St. Patrick’s Day: Green

Colors & Holidays - Green

Green shamrocks, green beer, and even green rivers, few things don’t get a wash of green dye in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. But, it’s not the springtime that inspired this color association. Instead, it was history.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every March 17 to commemorate the death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. Now, we almost universally associate the green shamrock with ‘The Luck of the Irish” and Ireland in general.

The Christmas Classic: Red & Green

Color & Holidays - Red & Green

The history of red and green being Christmas colors goes back to the early years of paganism and Christianity. The Romans celebrated the god of agriculture, Saturn, between Dec. 17-25 (Saturnalia), and they would exchange different greeneries, such as ivy and holly, as gifts of wishing each other peace and good luck during this time.

Another reason dates back to Christianity in the 1300s. On every Dec. 24th, Adam and Eve’s Day was celebrated. Churches put on a Paradise Play depicting Adam and Eve’s story, which of course required an apple tree, and since finding a real tree with ripe apples wasn’t likely during the winter, church members fastened red apples to pine tree branches.

Hanukkah’s Meaningful Colors: Blue & White

Color & Holidays - Blue and White

The other popular color pairing during the holiday season is the classic blue and white used to convey Hanukkah celebrations. These colors are so strongly associated with the holiday because of what they represent. Not only are these the colors of the Israeli flag, but they have deep-rooted significance in Judaism.

The Book of Numbers describes the tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl, as having one thread dyed a specific blue (tekhelet) and three white threads. Tekhelet is believed to be the color of heaven and divine revelation.

Colors of Kwanzaa: Black, Red & Green

Kwanzaa symbols

Kwanzaa’s recent inception does not impact the deep meaning behind the colors that have come to represent this holiday. Each of the colors has a very specific purpose and is meant to convey a specific meaning.

These three colors convey a powerful message: “Black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle.” Green is used to symbolize the land of Africa and hope. Red represents the bloodshed by African ancestors in the name of liberation for future generations. Black symbolizes the skin color of the African people.

Exceptional Color, Every Time

Here at, you can trust us when we say that we really know color! You never have to worry about your retail graphics turning out the wrong shade of red or green because we do color matching right. Give us a call to find out more about our color matching process.

Share this article