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Why Are Red And Green The Colors Of Christmas?

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MIAMI – Beautiful decorations illuminate in stores, in our homes, on our streets — and two colors tend to dominate the decor.

But why are red and green the colors of Christmas?

David Landry teaches religious studies at the University of St. Thomas.

"We have a lot of different accounts of how it came to be," he said. "Like so many traditions, there's no definitive answer."

But he did offer up a few theories scholars have come up with over the years. The first one involves the crown of thorns — the holly — placed on Jesus' head leading up to the crucifixion.

"The berries were white when they were put on Jesus' head, and then they turned red as a consequence of the blood that was spilled," Landry said.

There was one theory that Landry thinks is most probable. It has to do with the colors green and red as a prop in a play dating back to the 14th century.

"One of these plays was the Paradise play — the fall of Adam and Eve," he said. "The traditional date for that was Dec. 24."

The apple was red, and the prop was a tree.

"You couldn't use an apple tree, because the apple trees weren't in season and the trees were bare," Landry continued. "So they would use an evergreen tree, like a pine, and then they would decorate it with apples."

There is another theory that stems from St. Nicholas, who morphed into Santa Claus. St. Nick was a bishop and red was the color of bishops. Green, on the other hand, symbolizes eternal life.

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