How Coca-Cola made red and white the official Christmas colours

Dristi Sharma
Dristi SharmaDec 24, 2023 | 18:00

How Coca-Cola made red and white the official Christmas colours

It is true that human beings do like to relate any festive occasion with colours. For instance, when we say Diwali, we associate it with golden and orange or if we think of Hanukkah, we think white and blue. Now similarly, when we say Christmas, what comes to your mind? Santa Claus wearing a red coat or the evergreen trees?

But do you know that the story behind the colours of Christmas actually includes culture and commercialisation, in addition to, well, religious influence? 



So, the story goes back to the 1930s when Coca-Cola significantly contributed to shaping the universally recognised image of Santa Claus that we know today.

Their advertisements depicted Santa Claus wearing a red suit with white fur trim, matching the brand's distinctive red and white colours.

Coca-Cola's marketing campaigns, featuring a jolly, rosy-cheeked Santa donning the red suit, quickly captured the public's imagination.

Soon, this image of Santa Claus became so ingrained in popular culture that it contributed to solidifying the association of red and white with the holiday season.

Photo: Santa Claus in the 1930's/Coke

Now, remember that Coca-Cola didn’t invent Santa Claus's red attire; however, their advertising campaigns undoubtedly popularised and standardised this depiction, reinforcing the prevalence of red as a dominant colour associated with Christmas. 

However, before 1930s, Times reported that research found that holly (the Christmas tree), with its green leaves and red berries, long played a role in winter solstice celebrations that predate the spread of Christmas. But despite those deep roots, it was Coke's advertisement that changed the game and associated Santa's red costume and the green tree to make the colours of Christmas red and green.

Photo: Holly plant

What do these colours symbolise?

Now, with time, both the colours symbolises different meanings for Christmas. 


1. Red 

This colour is often associated with the blood of Jesus Christ, and represents the sacrifice he made. It also symbolises love, passion, and the warmth of the season. Red is commonly used in decorations like holly berries, Santa's suit, and ornaments.

2. Green

Green symbolises life, renewal, and nature. It is associated with eternal life, representing the everlasting life that Jesus promised. Evergreen plants like holly, ivy, and Christmas trees remain green throughout the winter, signifying hope and the continuation of life.

Last updated: December 24, 2023 | 18:00
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