The color purple is imbued with different symbolic meanings in several religions. In Catholicism, purple is closely associated with Advent and Lent, and carries connotations of royalty going back to the sovereignty of Christ. In Judaism purple stands for redemption through God. Eastern religions have their own interpretations of the color purple. In Buddhism, purple symbolizes mysticism, and Hindus associate purple with peace.
The Catholic Advent wreath features bright purple candles and ribbon to symbolize penance, prayer and the personal sacrifices made during the Advent season. Also, during Lent, church altars and windows are draped in rich purple fabric. During this time, purple becomes a color of mourning for the crucifixion, and takes on an additional connotation of royalty in Christ's resurrection and sovereignty.
In the Torah, Judaism's holy text, many colors are referenced and their meanings explained. Purple gets its symbolism in Judaism from the combination of two other colors, red and blue. In the Jewish tradition red symbolizes sin and blue represents the glorification of God, and when the two combine to form purple the meaning is transformed into one of redemption and purification.
Hinduism & Buddhism
Hinduism associates purple with a oneness with god, peace and wisdom. In Buddhism lotus flowers symbolize purity and rebirth, but their meanings alter slightly as they change color. The purple lotus flower is called the mystic lotus -- when pictured as a bud it represents the heart prior to enlightenment, and in full bloom it symbolizes the virtues of the Buddha.
Wicca & Pagan Religions
In pagan religions such as Wicca, purple takes on a more mysterious meaning. Purple symbolizes the occult, secret dealing and hidden force. Additionally, burning a purple candle from midnight until dawn at the beginning of Samhain -- the Wiccan winter solstice -- is supposed to bring good luck.
- BBC Religions: Lent
- Contemporary Color: Theory & Use; Steven Bleicher
- Buddha Dharma Education Association & BuddhaNet: The Symbol of the Lotus
- Catholic Education Resource Center: The History of the Advent Wreath
- Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft; Raven Grimassi
- Franco Origlia/Getty Images News/Getty Images