What does crimson mean symbolically?

Written by jae allen
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What does crimson mean symbolically?
Crimson's symbolism changes with time and place. (crimson image by Dave from Fotolia.com)

Throughout the ages, colours have been used symbolically to represent an individual's status, intentions or emotions. Crimson is a colour which has been used with various symbolic meanings in different eras and societies. As an indication of social status, crimson was symbolically important in the Elizabethan Era in Britain, while the use of crimson flowers to convey meaning has continued from the 18th century to the present day.

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In Elizabethan-era England (the second half of the 16th century), crimson clothing signified an individual's status. Wearing the colour crimson was legally regulated by the English Sumptuary Laws---only royalty, noble persons and members of the Council were allowed to wear crimson during this time. Therefore, the colour crimson symbolised high social standing and power in Elizabethan England.


In Elizabethan society, crimson also held a strong religious symbolism. Prominent church figures were depicted wearing crimson robes, and so the colour crimson held a strong association with the church itself. Symbolically, crimson was associated with power, importance, and specific religious meanings. The Biblical meaning of crimson is to symbolise the blood of martyrs or the presence of God. Crimson is also strongly associated with humility and atonement, and it is the liturgical colour most strongly associated with Pentecost.

Language of Flowers

It is believed that the so-called "language of flowers"---in which certain flowers convey a particular meaning and therefore can be used in secret communication---originated in Turkey and became popular in Europe from the 18th century onwards. Under this old secret language, a crimson polyanthus represents "the heart's mystery," while a dark crimson rose represents mourning. The latter has prevailed into modern times---a dark crimson rose symbolises mourning according to the contemporary language of flowers in use in North America.

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