The Twelve Mysteries of Christmas, Day 2: Why Red and Green?


On the second day of Christmas, my true love queried me: “Why are red and green the traditional colors of Christmas?”

Dear Soul,

Seriously . . . why not purple and gold? Or orange and yellow? Or even pink and blue?

Fact is, green has been used by many cultures as a symbol of life. During harsh winters, evergreens were cut down and brought into houses as a symbol that life still existed despite the bleak conditions outside. Romans hung holly wreaths on their doors and walls to welcome back the sun in the natalis solis invicti (“birth of the invincible sun”) festival, which was celebrated on December 25 each year. Red was added to symbolize the shed blood of Jesus.

Other sources indicate that in medieval times, churches presented “Miracle Plays,” dramas used to educate the illiterate public about religion. In “The Paradise Play,” illustrating the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, an apple tree would have been used when it was in season, and out of season, another red fruit (such as a pomegranate) was used to festoon a pine tree. The custom of using a pine to represent the Tree of Good and Evil spread from the church to the home, creating a tradition with the two colors.

In addition, red was also the color of a bishop’s uniform, and would therefore have been worn by St. Nicholas, leading to the present day Santa’s red suit.

My take: They’re vibrant jewel tones that harmonize like peanut butter and jelly . . . or Christmas cookies and milk.

Recipe for Red-and-Green Holiday Mold

  • 2.5 cups boiling water, divided
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) JELL-O Gelatin, any red flavor
  • 1 pkg. (4 oz.) JELL-O Lime Flavor Gelatin
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1/2 cup thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping

Stir 1.5 cups of the boiling water into red gelatin in a large bowl for two minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Reserve 1.5 cups gelatin at room temperature. Pour remaining red gelatin into wreath or five-cup mold sprayed with cooking spray. Refrigerate about 45 minutes or until set but not firm (should stick to finger when touched and should mound).

Stir remaining one cup boiling water into lime gelatin in medium bowl for two minutes until completely dissolved. Spoon in ice cream, stirring until ice cream is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Spoon over red layer in mold. Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until set but not firm.

Spoon reserved red gelatin over creamy layer in mold. Refrigerate four hours or until firm. Unmold.*  Top with whipped topping. Store leftover gelatin mold in refrigerator.

* To unmold gelatin, dip mold in warm water for about 15 seconds. Gently pull gelatin from around edges with moist fingers. Place moistened serving plate on top of mold. Invert mold and plate. Holding mold and plate together, shake slightly to loosen. Gently remove mold and center gelatin on plate.

Note: For a lighter version, prepare as directed with Jell-O Sugar Free Gelatin, low-fat frozen yogurt, and Cool Whip Lite Whipped Topping.


2 thoughts on “The Twelve Mysteries of Christmas, Day 2: Why Red and Green?

  1. Pingback: Irminsul, dies natalis solis invicti, birthday of light, Christmas and Saturnalia | Stepping Toes

  2. I’ve never heard of green as representative as life, but now that you say it, I can totally see that. There’s something a little genius about debunking Christmas myths and questions through your blog. I’m totally impressed.

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