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Friday, December 16, 2016

Symbolic Color Meanings

Symbolic Color Meanings Throughout the World

The following is a basic list of some symbolic color meanings throughout the world. 
  • It is by no means a comprehensive list. 
  •  I suggest you do your own research about the country or culture you are working with, to establish what colors are currently acceptable. 
Times change and old associations may be slowly altered over the years. 
Western cultures have adopted some Eastern color uses while some Eastern cultures have adopted Western ideas. 
The Internet has allowed people to learn about other cultures and to adopt what they like from those cultures.

Therefore, the following meanings are traditional and not necessarily in current use in these cultures.


Cultural Color Meanings of Red:

Western:
  • energy, excitement, action 
  • danger 
  • love, passion 
  • a warning to stop
  • anger
  • Christmas combined with green
  • Valentine's Day

Eastern:
  • prosperity
  • good fortune
  • worn by brides
  • symbol of joy when combined with white

China: 
  • the color of good luck and celebration 
  • vitality, happiness, long life
  • used as a wedding color
  • used in many ceremonies from funerals to weddings
  • used for festive occasions
  • traditionally worn on Chinese New Year to bring luck and prosperity

India: 
  • color of purity, fertility, love, beauty
  • wealth, opulence and power
  • used in wedding ceremonies 
  • a sign of a married woman
  • also color of fear and fire

Thailand:
  • color for Sunday

Japan: 
  • life
  • anger and danger

Cherokees: 
  • success, triumph

South Africa: 
  • color of mourning
Nigeria:
  • usually reserved for ceremonies
  • worn by chiefs
Russia: 
  • associated with the Bolsheviks and Communism, 
  • means beautiful in Russian language
  • often used in marriage ceremonies

Australian Aborigines: 
  • represents the land and earth 
  • ceremonial color

Hebrew: 
  • sacrifice, sin

Christian: 
  • sacrifice, passion, love

Cultural Color Meanings of Pink

Western:
  • caring and nurturing 
  • love and romance
  • feminine

Eastern:
  • feminine

Europe: 
  • feminine color 
  • baby girls

Belgium:
  • pink was traditionally used for baby boys - now it is more common for it to be used for baby girls

Japan: 
  • well-liked by both males and females

Thailand:
  • color for Tuesday

Korea: 
  • trust

Cultural Color Meanings of Orange

Western:
  • affordable or inexpensive items
  • Halloween, combined with black

Eastern:
  • happiness
  • spirituality

Thailand:
  • color for Thursday

Ireland: 
  • religious color for Protestants 
  • appears on the Irish flag along with white for peace and green for Catholics

Netherlands: 
  • color of the Dutch Royal Family

Hinduism: 
  • Saffron, a soft orange color, is considered an auspicious and sacred color

Cultural Color Meanings of Yellow

Western:
  • happiness, joy
  • hope 
  • cowardice
  • caution, warning of hazards and hazardous substances

Eastern: 
  • sacred
  • imperial

China: 
  • sacred
  • imperial, royalty
  • honor
  • masculine color

India: 
  • sacred and auspicious 
  • the Symbol of a Merchant

Thailand: 
  • considered auspicious as the bright yellow flower "cassia fistula" is a national symbol. 
  • represents Buddhism. 
  • yellow is considered the royal color, the color of Monday which is the King's birthday
Egypt: 
  • color of mourning

Burma: 
  • color of mourning

Israel:
  • used to label Jews in the Middle Ages

Middle East:
  • happiness
  • prosperity

Japan: 
  • courage 
  • beauty and refinement
  • aristocracy
  • cheerfulness

Europe: 
  • happiness, joy 
  • cowardice, weakness 
  • hazard warning

France:
  • jealousy

Greece:
  • sadness

Africa:
  • Usually reserved for those of high rank

Buddhism: 
  • wisdom

Jewish: 
  • yellow star badges of the Middle Ages and post war Germany and Poland

Cultural Color Meanings of Green

Western:
  • lucky color in most western cultures
  • spring, new birth, regeneration
  • nature and environmental awareness 
  • color for 'go' at traffic lights
  • Saint Patrick's Day 
  • Christmas combined with red
  • jealousy
  • greed

Eastern:
  • new life, regeneration and hope
  • fertility

China: 
  • new life, regeneration and hope
  • fertility 
  • disgrace - giving a Chinese man a green hat indicates his wife is cheating on him 
  • exorcism
  • studies show it is generally not good for packaging

India: 
  • the color of Islam, 
  • hope, 
  • new beginnings
  • harvest 
  • virtue

Thailand:
  • color for Wednesday

Japan: 
  • eternal life
  • youthfulness
  • freshness

Indonesia:
  • a forbidden color

Ireland: 
  • religious color for Irish Catholics 
  • color symbol of Ireland - the Emerald Isle
France:
  • not good for packaging

North Africa: 
  • corruption and the drug culture

Egypt:
  • hope
  • spring

Middle East:
  • color of Islam
  • strength
  • fertility
  • luck

Saudi Arabia:
  • wealth and prestige

South America:
  • death

USA: 
  • money
  • jealousy

Cultural Color Meanings of Blue

Generally the safest color to use world wide

Western:
  • trust and authority
  • conservative, 
  • corporate 
  • peace and calm
  • depression, 
  • sadness 
  • "something blue" bridal tradition
  • masculine color
  • baby boys

Eastern:
  • immortality

China:
  • immortality
  • associated with pornography and 'blue films' 
  • feminine color

India: 
  •  Lord Krishna 
  • national sports color
Japan:
  • everyday life

Korea:
  • color of mourning

Thailand:
  • color for Friday

Belgium:
  • light blue was traditionally the color for baby girls - now it is more common to use it for baby boys

Cherokees: 
  • defeat, trouble

Mexico:
  • mourning
  • trust
  • serenity

Iran: 
  • color of mourning 
  • heaven and spirituality
  • immortality

Israel: 
  • Coat of Arms

Egypt:
  • virtue
  • protection - to ward off evil

Middle East: 
  • protection

Colombia: 
  • associated with soap

US Politics: 
  • liberalism

UK & European Politics: 

  • conservatism

Religious Beliefs in Many Cultures: 
  • Christianity: Christ's color 
  • Judaism: holiness 
  • Hinduism: the color of Krishna 
  • Catholicism: color of Mary's robe

Cultural Color Meanings of Purple

Western:
  • Royalty
  • spirituality
  • wealth and fame
  • high ranking positions of authority 
  • Military Honor (Purple Heart)

Eastern:
  • wealth

India:
  • sorrow
  • comforting

Japan:
  • privilege 
  • wealth

Thailand: 
  • color of mourning for widows
  • color for Saturday

Brazil:
  • death and mourning

European: 
  • Royalty

Catholicism: 
  • mourning
  • death, crucifixion

Cultural Color Meanings of White

Western:
  • brides and weddings 
  • angels
  • hospitals, doctors 
  • peace - the white dove
  • purity and cleanliness

Eastern: 
  • death, mourning and funerals 
  • sadness

China: 
  • death and mourning
  • virginity and purity
  • humility
  • age
  • misfortune

India: 
  • unhappiness 
  • symbol of sorrow in death of family member 
  • traditionally the only color a widow is allowed to wear
  • funerals 
  • peace and purity

Japan: 
  • White carnation symbolizes death

Thailand: 
  • white elephants are considered auspicious, 
  • white symbolizes purity in Buddhism

Korea: 
  • purity, innocence, 
  • morality, 
  • birth and death

Middle East:
  • purity
  • mourning

Cultural Color Meanings of Black

Western:
  • power, control, intimidation
  • funerals, death, mourning
  • rebellion

Eastern:
  • wealth, health and prosperity

China: 
  • color for young boys

India: 
  • evil, negativity, darkness
  • lack of appeal 
  • anger and apathy
  • used to ward off evil

Japan:
  • color of mystery and the night
  • may be associated with feminine energy - either evil and a threat or provocative and alluring

Thailand: 
  • unhappiness, 
  • bad luck, evil

Judaism: 
  • unhappiness, 
  • bad luck, evil

Middle East:
  • evil
  • mystery

Africa:
  • Age and wisdom

Australian Aborigines: 
  • ceremonial color
  • commonly used in their artworks

Cultural Color Meanings of Brown

Western:
  • down-to-earth, practical
  • comfortable 
  • stable, dependable, 
  • wholesome

China:
  • In Chinese Horoscopes brown is the color for earth

India:
  • Color of mourning

Nicaragua:
  • Sign of disapproval

Cultural Color Meanings of Magenta

Western:
  • Creative, innovative and artistic
  • Imaginative and outrageous
  • Loving, compassionate and kind
  • Encourages emotional balance
  • Spiritual yet practical
  • Non-conformist

Spain:
  • Official color of the Union Progress and Democracy political party

Netherlands:
  • Used by the Amsterdam based Magenta Foundation in support of anti-racism

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