Have you ever wondered how green and red became the traditional colours of Christmas?

Many colour combinations can been seen in today’s festive season, but no other duos are as tied to Christmas than green and red.

This palette has been linked to the winter solstice – a celebration by ancient cultures to usher in the beginning of brighter days ahead. The ancient Romans held a feast called Saturnalia and adorned their homes with fragrant greenery to bring joy through the harsh winter months. In Celtic traditions, holly plants, with their bright red berries, were said to bring good fortune.

During the Middle Ages, churches would perform plays of bible stories on Christmas Eve. These stages re-created the garden of Eden using evergreens. And a pine tree with apples tied to its branches would represent the Paradise tree. Wreaths of holly symbolized the crown of thorns worn by Jesus.

Fast forward to more recent history; In 1931, Coca-Cola commissioned an illustrator named Haddon Sundblom to bring Santa Clause to life. Thanks in part to Coca Cola’s investments in its advertising, this American depiction of Christmas has endured ever since and played a key role in establishing green and red as Christmas colours.