Who colour-coded Christmas?

Santa's crimson and fur-lined coat? Shiny holly leaves and berries? Colourful poisonous, hallucinogenic mushrooms? Or medieval paintings in East Anglian churches? Just how did red, green and white become the conventional colours of Christmas?

Dr Spike Bucklow from Cambridge University's Hamilton Kerr Institute is questioning the common belief that the traditional festive shades are a legacy of the Victorians. For the past three years, he has researched the art history of medieval wooden rood screens in churches across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Here - from the bright rainbow palette of the 21st Century Christmas - he travels back in time to present a theory on who might have colour-coded Christmas.

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Dr Spike Bucklow's research is supported by The Leverhulme Trust.

Images courtesy PA, Getty Images, Science Photo Library, Spike Bucklow, Lucy Wrapson and Coca-Cola.

Music by St Paul's Cathedral Choir, The Bach Choir, Elton John and KPM Music.

Audio slideshow produced by Paul Kerley. Publication date 16 December.


Spike Bucklow and the Alchemy of Paint

Cambridge University

Churches of East Anglia

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