Now is a good time of year to pay close attention to color in the Orthodox Church, and how it's used to underline the moods appropriate to the season or special feastday.
Many changes have probably already occurred in your local parishes to signify the Lenten season. This is a good opportunity to review the significance of the colors with your teens and children to enhance their experience and understanding. On evenings like Forgiveness Vespers and Holy Saturday, the change of color can be seen mid-service!
In the Orthodox Church, there are typically six liturgical colors used: white, green, purple, red, blue, and gold. (Later, black vestments also came into use, and in various regions scarlet orange or rust as well) Most typikons/rubrics for our Orthodox jurisdictions seem to specify either "dark" or "bright" colors according to what the priest or parish might have available, but there are some common practices for the major feasts we can look at.
Changes can be seen in the priest's vestments, Altar table cloth, chalice and disc covers, sometimes the curtain in the royal doors, as well as the glass votives in the hanging vigil lamps in front of the icons on the iconostasis.
* White is used for Pascha, Christmas, the Transfiguration and Theophany (color of purity and God's uncreated light)
* Purple/Black for Lent (color of mourning and repentance)
* Green for Pentecost and feasts of the Holy Cross (color of plants and new life, renewal)
* Blue for feasts of the Theotokos and Salutation services in Lent (color of humanity, and also the heavens as we call Panagia's womb "More Spacious than the Heavens")
* Red for feasts of Martyrs, the Nativity fast, and also Pascha in some regions (color of martyrs blood, also color of divinity and royalty)
* Gold as the default (color of virtue)
-Click the images to print and use as handouts in your lesson-
~ Helpful Links ~
Interview on Vestments with Krista West
Fr Jerry Hall recording