Do you ever wonder what do colors mean? You may have heard expressions like feeling blue or green with jealousy. And you may be curious how these expressions or feelings became associated with certain colors. Human beings have associated lots of meaning to the colors around us. The meanings don’t always make sense but it would be interesting to know where they came from and why such colors are interpreted in certain ways.
In trying to understand what do colors mean, it’s important to remember that most of these beliefs came from superstition and should not be taken as facts. For example, just because green represents jealousy in most cultures, it doesn’t mean that someone who has green eyes is a jealous person. Most of this information is for entertainment purposes and maybe for poetic and literary uses.
Speaking of superstition, this is what colors mean to the world’s major religions. Again, this is based on tradition and superstition so you don’t have to take these seriously. If you’re interested in ancient mythology, here are some ancient Egypt mythology on colors. Colors are also rich in nature. And unlike superstition, there are scientific explanations for why the change in color takes place in nature like in plants. This is a great source of information on why do leaves change color in the fall.
What Do Colors Mean: Origins of Symbolism in Colors
As we look at what do colors mean, let us look at the explanations as to why human beings began to put symbolic meanings in some colors. Culture plays an important role in this human behavior to associate colors to different meanings. Here are some of them.
Red became the symbol of a lot of things. It includes health, life, vigor, war, courage, anger, and love. All of these have one thing in common and that is passion. And red is the life force that drives passion. This is something that a lot of people already know about what do colors mean.
When a person gets angry, their face becomes flushed with color and when someone is happy and healthy, they have rosy cheeks. As compared to when someone is sick, they tend to have a pale complexion. During fights, blood is spilled so red blood became connected to passion.
In a lot of cultures, white symbolizes purity and innocence. They wore white robes and garments to convey spiritual and sexual purity. This is why most brides wear white on their wedding day. This makes sense because if you drop a small drop of dye to a white fabric or a smudge of dirt, it immediately destroys the white color.
In many ancient cultures, they believed black to be the color of mystery. One of the reasons is that night as well as darkness, the absence of light transcends human perception the same way that the wisdom of the gods is beyond human comprehension, at least according to their culture.
Death is also one of the biggest mysteries. The ancient people were in the dark about what would happen to them after death so black represented death in many cultures. Here is a good explanation about what happens when we die. This is a widely known belief about what do colors mean.
Purple often symbolizes royalty. Also nobility and imperialism. In a lot of European societies, it was established by law. In ancient Rome and Elizabethan England, only the close members of the royalty could wear purple.
Purple has an elite status. It stems from the rarity and expensive cost of the purple dye to produce purple fabric. It took more than 9,000 mollusks to create just one gram of Tyrian purple and only the wealthy rulers could afford to buy and wear fabrics with the color. Purple became associated with the imperial classes of Rome, Egypt, and Persia.
True and Lonely Blue
One of the most recorded histories about truth is the expression “true blue” which was because of the calm and clear sky. It is a calm reflection that leads to truth. But today, blue mainly conveys sadness, loneliness, and despair. They say you’ve got the blues when you’re down in the dumps. This connotation relates to tears and rain. Water also represents in people’s minds as blue. Also in Greek mythology, the god Zeus made it rain when he was sad. This is a great literary symbol of what do colors mean.
Obviously, green represents nature and the environment. But it also represents wisdom abstractly. It has ancient roots. Egyptians believed that a god named Toth led the souls of the dead to a green hill of everlasting life and wisdom. In astrology, green is the color of the planet Mercury which governs the mind and confers knowledge. This is a very natural explanation of what do colors mean.
However, green has also been associated with jealousy, hence the expression the “green-eyed monster”. It’s the opposite of celestial wisdom. Its origins are not clear.
Yellow symbolizes happiness, warmth, and the sunshine in most cultures. These are characteristics of the yellow sun and the effects of it. In ancient cultures where the gods are associated with the sun, yellow was a high and noble color. The color of religious figures and royalties, and those they believed were descendants of the gods was yellow.
Other Color Symbolism
Here are some other symbolisms of colors according to culture and what do colors mean.
In psychology, the color pink symbolizes unconditional love and nurturing. It can also be immature, childish and girly. This is a more modern representation of what do colors mean.
Brown is a down-to-earth color that relates to security, protection, comfort, and material wealth.
In color psychology, gray is the color of compromise. It’s not black or white so it’s a transition between two non colors. It’s unemotional and can be indecisive. That is why there is an expression such as “gray areas” which means not definitive.
Silver has a rather feminine energy. It’s related to the moon and the flow of the tides. It’s fluid, emotional, sensitive as well as mysterious.
Gold represents success, achievement, and triumph. It’s associated with abundance and prosperity for obvious reasons.
Those are just some of the explanations of what do colors mean based on different cultures. There are so much more associations with colors because of different beliefs but those are the main ones.