The Colours of Halloween

In the latest of our topical looks at colour, we focus on the traditional colours of Halloween. Like many events, celebrations and other important dates in the annual calendar, the association with colour is key.

Halloween is a time of both celebration and superstition. The name is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening, and is observed in many predominantly Christian countries and cultures around the world on 31st October. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts and spirits.

It would be difficult to picture Halloween without black and orange. Orange is one of the most vibrant colours, celebrating life. It is warm and positive and associated with the autumn harvest. At Halloween there is the orange of the pumpkins which are carved each year, and orange is also a colour strongly associated with autumn, with the changing colours of the leaves. Mix this with some red, brown and yellow and you have the earth tones that make up the natural autumn leaves palette of September and October.

As the nights draw in, black is associated with witches’ costumes and cauldrons, black cats, bats and even vampires’ capes. In western culture, black is associated with death, which has particular significance on Halloween. Black represents night, death and the oncoming winter darkness.

It is believed that the colour scheme of black and orange can trace its roots back to the Celtic traditions which Halloween comes from. More recently the colours have been reinforced by the marketing of Halloween, with the displays of pumpkins and colour-themed products.

We’ll finish with a quote: “When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam, may luck be yours on Halloween” (author unknown).

Take a look at some of our other topical colour blogs, including The Colours of Santa Claus and the Colours of Christmas.

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