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Discovering Cultural Interpretations of Color

Discovering Cultural Interpretations of Color

While Western nations associate the color white with youth, purity and weddings, in Eastern nations, it would be offensive to wear white to a happy occasion, where it is considered a color of mourning.

  • There’s a reason Valentines are always red. All across the globe, red is associated with love.

    Yet for many other colors, their meanings and associations differ around the world. In the United States, for example, the color purple is associated with bravery and nobility. Think of the Purple Heart and the great significance it holds! Yet in Brazil, the same color purple is associated with mourning.

    Cultural perceptions of colors are also deeply rooted in idioms. There is no equivalent to “feeling blue” in other languages, yet it is strongly associated in western cultures with a dour mood. And while in English one is “green” with envy, in Germany one is “yellow” with it.

    Still, color meaning isn’t always constant, no matter what country of origin. In the United States, for example, pink was associated with baby boys throughout the 19th century.


  • Activity

    Choose 15 different colors of Post-it® Super Sticky Notes. Now, write down a list of associations: danger; happiness; trust; wealth; sophistication, etc. Organize the colors under the associations you have with them. Now, try to switch up the colors, organizing them under different associations. Does it make sense? Can you imagine seeing the world that way?

    How does culture’s use of color impact how you see the world?
    Share your thoughts on Facebook and let others know how you experienced the activity!

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