Color Meanings in Different Cultures

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  • 0:04 Color Meanings
  • 0:33 Red and Blue
  • 2:26 Green and Yellow
  • 3:41 Orange and Purple
  • 4:39 Black and White
  • 5:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Color is an important aspect of every culture. Colors can represent love, anger, sadness, infidelity, and religious affiliations, depending on the culture. In this lesson, we will look at the different meanings of colors in cultures around the world.

Color Meanings

Colors carry deep meanings with them in every culture. Western, Far Eastern, Middle Eastern, Indian, and African cultures have stark differences in the symbolism of colors within their cultures. For instance, in some cultures, white represents innocence, but in others, it can represent death. The symbolism of colors often stems from religious, spiritual, social, or historical events. In this lesson, we will look at the symbolic meanings of colors in cultures all over the globe.

Red and Blue

Red

Red symbolizes love and passion in many countries in North and South America, and Europe. In America, Valentine's Day is represented with red hearts to celebrate love. Red has several meanings in Indian culture. Red can represent fear, wealth, purity, love, marriage, and beauty. Women wearing red henna on their hands and sindoor, a red powder, along their hairlines mean that they are married.

In China, red represents luck and fertility. For example, during the Chinese New Year's celebration, small red envelopes are distributed to symbolize good fortune. Women often wear red on their wedding days to symbolize fertility and a marked change in a woman's life. In Thailand, red symbolizes their sun god Surya. Red also marks Sunday, as every day of the week in Thailand is represented by a certain color.

Red in African cultures symbolizes death and grief. In Nigeria and South Africa, red symbolizes violence and sacrifice. The flag of South Africa has red in it to symbolize the violence that occurred during its fight for freedom.

Blue

Blue is a dichotomous color because it bears both positive and negative meanings. For example, in North America, blue represents trust and serenity, but it can also symbolize depression and loneliness. For example, American banks, such as Citibank and Bank of America, use blue in their logos because it represents trust and security. Blue is also a symbol of masculinity in North America and Europe, but in China, it is considered a symbol of femininity.

In Asia and the Middle East, especially among Hindus, blue represents immortality. Blue is connected to Krishna who symbolizes love and divinity. In Ukraine, the color blue can symbolize healing. It is also said to repel evil in countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Albania. Citizens can be seen wearing blue amulets to protect them from evil.

Green and Yellow

Green

Green symbolizes luck, prosperity, renewal, and jealousy in the United States and Ireland. In the United States, green can mean wealth, which is represented by the color of the dollar. On the other hand, a person can be described as 'green' when they lack life experience. In Mexico, green represents freedom and independence. The color is an integral part of its national flag.

Islamic culture holds green up as the most valuable color. Green is a sacred color that symbolizes the prophet Muhammad. Green also represents respect, which is treated with great care in many Middle Eastern cultures. In Far Eastern cultures, green can symbolize eternity, infidelity, luck, wealth, and fertility. For example, in China, men wearing green hats mean that their wives have cheated on them. On the other hand, Chinese people carry around jade stones to represent virtue. In Japan, green represents eternity and vitality.

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