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The Meaning of the Color Green

The Meaning of the Color Green

If you look past cities of chrome steel and concrete, into the real world, the original world, you will see the color green everywhere. It is the predominant color in the natural living world. Set against the brown and grey bedrock that is the mineral earth, green is the vibrant contrasting color of life.

Green is most obvious in plants, leaves on trees, and grass underfoot, which get their colors from the presence of chlorophyll. However it is also present in animals, lizard, amphibians, and even insects, which evolved these features as a way of camouflaging with the predominant foliage. Even the waves of the ocean take on a green tint in the right light, and the waters of a still pond can become coated in a blanket of olive toned algae.

This makes green the color of life, and growth. It is often associated with fertility, regeneration, and healing. Green is natural healthy and active it is constantly growing and changing. Yet it is also soothing, like sitting in the midst of a forest, with streams of sunlight shooting down the canopy, and the gentle chatter of a thousand living creatures creating a tranquil buzz in your ears.

However, green can also be a symbol of sickness and decay. Life is green, but humans are not, and a human whose face has taken on the pale pallor of illness is often said to be looking a little green.

Certain tones are especially evocative of sickness, bringing to mind thoughts of green mold, bugs, viruses and other unsavory things. Just because green represents living creatures does not mean that those creatures are clean or healthy.

The negative side of green is emphasized most in the Celtic tradition which has evolved over the eons into modern British culture. Even today in Britain it is often considered bad luck to ride in a green car, or wear green clothes.

However in most of the world, and in most of its shades, the overwhelming meaning of the color green is of health and life. It is the official color of Britain’s neighbor to the north, where the Irish revel in the abundant green of their ever rolling plains.

Green is claimed by Islam as the religions official color. This is probably due to the fact that Islam emerged in the dessert, where great expanses of sand swept lifeless landscapes make rare patches of green a reason to rejoice. It is said in their religion that Paradise will be full of lush green plants.

In America, the color green is considered soothing and tranquil, without being lethargic. Unlike its counterpart blue, green doesn’t put you to sleep; it just keeps you relaxed while you go about the day to day activities of your life. 

Green is also the color of American money. In this way, it takes on a different aspect of growth, in this case representing the growth of a personal empire or fortune. This is unlike the growth of nature, which expands the world and life; instead money green is the growth of acquisition, where taking is just as good as making.

In this way green has become associated with greed and envy. It is the color of desire which can lead to obsession. In a way however, this does mimic life, where trees will strangle one another’s roots and will reach up to block one another from the life sustaining sun.

Life isn’t always pretty, and neither is green, but life is good, and so is the idea of growth and activity. In this way green is a profound force in our everyday lives. The meaning of the color green is a subtle subtext which colors the underlying structure of our culture, our art, and our very lives.

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