The Colour of Christmas

One of the most important techniques for being creative is the art of noticing. In fact this is perhaps the most important technique in sentience and consciousness: ‘I think, therefore I am’ is really prefixed by ‘I noticed that I was thinking’.

It’s nearly Christmas and I’ve noticed something. So many decorations are using a new colour, completely unknown to Christmas until very recently; blue. As we change from high voltage bulbs to low power LEDs, someone must have noticed that high energy (and until very recently, expensive) blue LEDs are the brightest.

Can we have (as Shakin’ Stevens sang) a blue Christmas? What colour is Christmas? Most of us secretly want a white Christmas. The last one of those I saw was in 1980. Subsequent ones seem to have been more grey, if judged by looking out of the window. The archetypal colours of the Victorian Christmas were green and red. The green is brought into the house with the evergreen of the tree and holly, reminding us that life continues during the harsh winter. The red of the holly berries, robin red breast and mulled wine connects both pagan and Christian thoughts of blood and sacrifice. The outfit of the ‘jolly old elf’ has been fixed as red, with white trimmings.

One of the gifts of the Magi at the nativity was gold, in reality just a fairly uncommon heavy metal. It’s next to platinum on the periodic table which is rarer and yet gold is the emotionally evocative substance. Gold is the standard the world agreed to base its finances on. There is something about the colour of gold. Christmas is also a festival of light, representing hope that the sun will return. We bring lights inside our houses, the gold of candlelight and the reflected sparkle from tinsel. In recent years foils and tinsels seem to have fallen out of favour, replaced by an enthusiasm for electric flashing lights.

Christmas uses all these colours to evoke within us some form of emotional response, of excitement, of hope, of wonder, of the possibility of magic. I’m dreaming of a multicoloured Christmas.

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