What’s Red at Christmastime?

Color psychologists say red represents energy, passion, and motivation to act. Red is everywhere this season: Santa’s costume, cranberry dishes, poinsettias.

I’m seeing red too. In Ian’s Santa cap at the Orchestra Zoo . . .


In Mother’s cranberry fruit salad recipe which I took to a Christmas party at a friend’s house last week . . .


Ruth L_Moms Cranberry reci copy

(Everything with the word Mom in it is my scribbling. The rest is in her own handwriting, a keepsake in my recipe box.)

Beautiful pots of poinsettias!


One more thing read at Christmas, the beautiful Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20Luke2

What can you add to the red – or to the read in your tradition? The conversation starts here. 

Coming next: Short and Sweet: A Belgian Christmas Card


40 thoughts on “What’s Red at Christmastime?

  1. Good morning! Christmas is the best holiday of the year. I love seeing all the red lights and decoration and the warm feeling coming in from the cold and seeing the beautiful decorations in early darkness. Yes I know I’m weird, but I love and get energy from all gloomy days. Sunny days zap my energy. I love Mom’s cranberry dish. I’ve been making it for years for my family. Thanksgiving is the only day we have no rice or beans. All American Thanksgiving dinner is one of our family’s great traditions. Thanks to all I’ve learned from Mom.


    1. If you like gloomy days, Chicago is a good place to live, especially in the winter time. About the recipes: I’m guessing that your family recipe box has all our Mom’s special recipes. She made them over and over. Yes, we both learned so much from Mother. Thanks for commenting today, Gloria, a name that is certainly in harmony with this joyous season.


  2. Festive, sweet, and word play, too–nice post!
    I mentioned the red holly berries in my post yesterday, and how they broke up the December gray. They were symbols for both pagans and Christians. (And of course, there’s the old carol, “The Holly and the Ivy.”) And the more modern, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
    As for things that are read–“Twas the Night Before Christmas,” which features Santa usually pictured in his red outfit.

    FYI–my house is barn red and my dining room is red. 🙂


    1. I imagine you create beautiful tablescapes for your luscious meals. As for Christmas jammies – we all know red keeps us warmer than white these cold winter nights. Thanks for adding to the list, Melodie.


  3. Red is usually the colour children choose when offered the world on a stick .
    I remember being a teenager in the 70’s (Bryan Ferry days) when the pencil skirts came back and I had a black skirt, red shirt and red teapot slides in my hair and I thought I was spectacular.

    A little earlier when I was about 14 I had a wonderful pair of platforms (black with a red heart on the side) Marian… did I have to fight to get those. My Dad said no so many times, but eventually he gave in! lol
    Love red…but I don’t feel right in red lipstick any more (not bright red anyway)
    Those were the days. Such a fun post – I might try your Mum’s wonderful cranberry sauce.


    1. You obviously like pretty clothes, bright and vivacious. I’m curious about the “red teapot slides” in your hair. Curlers, something else?

      Thanks for always supplying something new in your comments, Cherry. Let me know how the cranberry salad turns out!


      1. Marian I was thinking the slides might be barrettes.

        I would like to try the cranberry jello also . Your mother’s recipe is written much as my grandmother did with few directions. I am guessing you cook the whole cranberries in the water with the sugar, correct, than cool, then add two packets of dry jello powder. Are those the smaller boxes?


        1. Barrettes make perfect sense. I believe you are right.

          And yes, I did use the smaller boxes of lemon jello and you are correct about the other directions. Cooks like my mother in this era could visualize how something was made and just assumed we would know too. She often said about measurements for other dishes she made without a recipe: “Just whatever you think. . .!” I hope your family enjoys this the cranberry salad too.


  4. Ah beautiful Marian thank you! Thank you for saying about the pointsettia – I must get one for the table. They are so festive and so representative of Christmas!

    I have 2 Christmas tablecloths which are predominantly red – I must get them out. With wreaths and red cherries, and red bows and lovely patches of green. Another Christmas table cloth is predominantly green with gold, white and darker green in the holly detail, with red berries in the centre. Red candles … strawberries. I love red festive napkins (even if they are paper; so I get really good ones).

    LOVED your photos thank you … the recipe looks interesting. And I will look out for Luke 2: 1-20, thank you …


    1. You are welcome, Susan. I picture you in the next few days spreading red throughout your whole house with touches of green and gold. It’s summer now in South Africa, so I’m imagining warm, sunny weather as a back-drop for your Christmas festivities.


  5. What an interesting post! I only have red balls hanging on my Christmas tree along with angels. It’s truly beautiful! Red stockings are hanging from my circular stairway, waiting to be filled! 🙂


    1. The circular stairway has to be a spectacular showcase for the red stockings. With all of your grandchildren, you must have a bunch. What a cheery sight! Thanks for helping us visualize Christmas at your house.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Marian — My favorite RED during the holiday season is the color of the Spiced Winter Cardamom candles that we burn throughout the month of December. I’m fairly certain they’re precisely what Heaven smells like!


    1. When I read “spiced cardamom” candles, I raced up to my spice rack to get a whiff of cardamom. Fresh and sharp! Where do you find such scents? (I’m guessing other readers would like to know too.) It would be a nice change from my balsam candles that have burnt down to their nubs.


      1. Marian — We burn Stella Mare candles. I purchase mine in the home department at Fred Meyer. But if you (or your readers) don’t have that type of store where you live, you can order them through Amazon.com and many online vitamin stores (i.e., Lucky Vitamin at http://www.luckyvitamin.com/p-352938-stella-mare-votive-candle-italian-orange-2-oz).

        Spiced Winter Cardamom is seasonal — sold only during the holidays (and hard to come by even then, so I buy them by the boxful).

        During the rest of the year we typically burn Italian Orange or Cranberry Tangerine. They’re both wonderful scents (and work well with the color scheme in our home).

        We like to burn votives because there’s only one itty-bitty metal thing left when the candle is used up. We use to use jar candles, but then realized how much we were contributing to an already overused landfill situation.



  7. I love the red at Christmas time. The Spanish love red all year though so I see it everywhere. Your mom´s cranberry sauce looks great with the pineapple in it. Yum. You will be thinking of her this Christmas as you make her recipes.


  8. I see Red, a color I love, all through the house. Deep red poinsettia’s at the entranceway, red balls in a bowl on the table (the glass bowl came from Mother’s collection before she moved to Landis Homes). Silk red poppies grace the highest shelf of the bookcase. Red appears in a number of paintings and sculptures. It’s my favorite accent color.

    We just had a party tonight, and it would not have been the same without spashes of crimson.

    Loved seeing your reds.


    1. I can picture some of the reds you describe in your house – thanks for the tour, Shirley. Red is prominent in my kitchen in the mid-level wallpaper lining the space. Like saffron, it doesn’t take much to make an impact, and it always makes me smile.


  9. Love your mom’s recipe and very pretty beaded bowl you presented it in. Once again, I ‘m so glad the blog can be a place you can share wonderful memories of your mother in your heartfelt writing, her handwriting and the pictures.
    Something I read is “The Night Before Christmas” but I fairly sing it too, as I learned it from memory when our sixth grade class presented it so many years ago. Here is the link to the music almost like I remember it. I know this is the same arrangement! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAGCBZh2UkY


    1. I just enjoyed listening to the University of Utah’s holiday medley with wonderful choreography and a flash of red at the end. Thank you for this musical gift!

      The pretty beaded bowl was a wedding gift with glass that may be a form of candle-wicking – not sure. Precious memories!


  10. I like to plant red flowers in the garden to attract hummingbirds, of course those are long gone. I have a poinsettia on the kitchen counter. I had to buy some new lights for the tree and these LED lights might be new and improved but the red bulbs don’t look red, they look pink. Not right. Red clothes, don’t have any. I remember being young and at the store and seeing ladies with blood red lips and nails… my mother would tell us not to stare …We did anyways.

    I needed cinnamon red hots for decorating the cookies but they were hard to find this year. Found out they are called imperials, by the way. From where I’m sitting, I can see into my pantry and red is everywhere , on every label . Often the product name is in red or the name is against a red background. The graham crackers I am about to crush to bits are in a bright red box using a recipe from a red covered cookbook. Eye catching, attention seeking. Like those women with the red lipstick.


    1. Your description is a cornucopia of reds, both beautiful to behold and the edible kind. I used cinnamon red hots for a recipe recently and found them in a “Red Hots” box at Walmart. However, I have heard them referred to as imperials. I had to chuckle at your observation of the red hot lipstick! Nice to see you commenting here, Athanasia.


  11. Beautiful photos representing this season. The red for me would be the scarf our Santa wears (he lights up and changes colors), the red mixing bowls we use for festive occasions such as Christmas, the red ornaments and, like you, a well-read Bible. Thank you for sharing this post and the memories it stirs – I’ve kept a few of my Mom’s hand-written recipes as well. 😉 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Marian.


  12. I drove eleven hours to visit my son and his wife for Christmas. I looked a selections in my suitcase this morning and realized I had packed three red shirts and one red jacket. I can’t think of any better color for winter in the northeast.

    Since my husband died, I wanted red shoes. I don’t usually enjoy shopping or buying clothing, but I looked hard for the right red shoes for important events or events when I want to feel my very best. Wore them at my nephew’s wedding, my book opening, and my TEDx talk. Works for me. You noticed this right away because red shoes say something about your fancy clothes.


    1. Yes, I do remember your reference to the red “Dorothy” shoes you wore to the Tedx talk. (Better than a bunny tail!) Today I heard another Tedx talk on NPR featuring a discussion on compassion featuring a Princeton theologian and Daniel Goleman, author of best-selling book Emotional Intelligence. You’d fit right in.

      Incidentally, I think your red wardrobe probably matches your happy mood right now surrounded by son and family. I’m glad you made it there safely before the weather turns bad. Happy, happy holiday to you and yours!


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