"The solution is to be found through the sanctification of the parents. Become saints and you will have no problems with your children." Father Porphyrios , Wounded By Love

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Colors of Orthodoxy

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 ~

Russian Link

Antiochian Link

Interview on Vestments with Krista West

Fr Jerry Hall recording


Pres. Kathy said...

What a great activity! Colors are very important in the Orthodox Church.

fkulik said...

Red is the color of the Resurrection. Red vestments and res candles are used

Orthodox Education said...

and as my husband just reminded me...we do have red eggs, and traditionally, the Greek women like to use red and white flowers on the kouvouklion...

Orthodox Education said...

Sorry for leaving that out "fkulik" You are right,red is also used in some regions. Where are you living?

Konstantina said...

You might already know this but because red represents divinity and blue humanity in icons Christ wears red because He is God but is covered in a blue garment because He took on human flesh. Panagia wears blue because she is human but wears red on the outside because by grace she was clothed with divinity.

Just a neat fact to go along with your neat post about Liturgical colours.

Orthodox Education said...

Absolutely Konstantina ~ Thanks for your post!

This hymn always comes to mind...

"as many as
have been baptized
into Christ,
have PUT on Christ,

It's a fantastic teaching opportunity!

Pres. Jeannie said...

Actually, the statement about the red and blue colors in the icons is incorrect. Just came across the posting - you had this discussion some time ago, but just FYI for those who run across it later. It is the opposite, although your idea was on the right track. Red in the icon of Christ represents his humanity (the flesh, blood, etc) and blue represents divinity (heaven, the sky). Christ assumed the human nature - hence he is wearing red while he is nontheless God (covered outwardly in blue. ) the Theotokos is the opposite - (inside is blue and outside is red)she "put on" divinity since she bore God, while remaining human (red).

Stephanos said...

What are your sources, Presvytera Jeannie?

Unknown said...

Yes, I lived in Greece for 5 years. The one thing I remember and was told is that Greeks avoid wearing the color purple because it is symbolic for the death of The King, Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

These are great tools for teaching children! Thank you very much, Pres. Jeanie, as well, for clarifying the blue and red colors.

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