colours


colours
   In English folklore, the main significant colours are *black, *white, *red, *green, and to a lesser extent *blue. The ascribed meanings, however, do not form a systematic code, nor are they self-consistent; each colour is considered individually, not in parallel or contrast to others in a set, and each can carry either good or bad meanings, according to context. In some cases rhyme determines the meaning, notably in the association of blue and 'true'.
   Various more coherent codes associated with religion, astrology, and alchemy in the medieval and early modern period, were known to at least some sections of the community. The traditional Catholic liturgical colours were: white for the feasts of Christ, Mary, and saints that are not martyrs; red for martyrs; violet in penitential seasons; black on Good Friday and at funerals; green at all other times (the system was modified in the 1960s). Catholics also associate blue with the Virgin Mary.
   A powerful modern code is the red/amber/ green of traffic controls, according to which red = 'danger/stop', and green = 'safety/go ahead'.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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