Discover why we associate certain colours and plants with Christmas and learn to draw this Christmas inspired mandala, perfect for your handmade Christmas cards in one of my online art classes. Scroll down for more information and for my FREE printable Christmas card to colour.

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Deck the halls with boughs of holly

If you celebrate Christmas, have you put up your decorations yet? Do you have a colour theme for your decorations or does anything go in your household?  

I’m a big kid when it comes to Christmas and still find it a magical time of year. I adore seeing everyone’s twinkling lights and glimpses of their sparkling trees through the gap in the curtain. but I’m always shockingly late putting up my own Christmas decorations. I’ve even been caught putting up my Christmas tree while the turkey is already in the oven on Christmas Day morning as the family descends waiting to be fed.

This year, my decorations are already down from the attic and will be going up this evening.

The most popular colour scheme for Christmas here in the UK is, without doubt, red and green. But do you know why we associate these colours with Christmas and why plants such as holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are often used as seasonal motifs?

If you aren’t familiar with the song ‘Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly‘ it’s a traditional Christmas carol. The lyrics were written in 1881, although the Welsh melody was written much earlier than this. The song invites you to have a few drinks and celebrate the New Year. Don’t mind if I do!

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Why do the colours red and green make us think of Christmas?

Long before the first Christmas, the Celts celebrated the Winter Solstice by decorating their homes with sprigs of holly to bring them a prosperous new year.

Holly is also signifcant for Christians with the red berries being symbolic of the blood of Christ and the evergreen trees of winter, including holly, being symbolic of eternal life.

However, something far more materialistic cemented these colours in our minds. Thomas Nast was possibly the first person to depict Santa Claus, or do you prefer Father Christmas, as we know him today, namely in a red suit trimmed with white fur, a black belt with a large buckle and a red nightcap in his drawing for Harper’s Weekly magazine in 1881(pictured below). In the following years, Santa was still depicted in a variety of outfits in different colours.

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It wasn’t until the 1930s when Coco-Cola ran an advert picturing Santa dressed in the same red as the cap of a Coco-Cola bottle that Santa outfit became fixed and he was seen dressed in red forevermore.

The same shade of red, together with a green background, were used in Coco-Cola adverts until 1964, firmly fixing them in our subconscious minds as the colours of Christmas.


How did mistletoe and poinsettias become symbolic of Christmas?

There are numerous trees, and flowers that we all associate with Christmas. Holly and ivy, a sprig of mistletoe to kiss under, and the Christmas rose are just a few examples. And, of course, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas, without a Christmas tree. Mind you, the radish as a festive motif is a new one on me. Yes, when I was researching this blog post it came up as a Christmas decoration a number of times! Is this a US thing that we Brits haven’t heard of, or is it just me who doesn’t decorate her house with radishes at Christmas? (Or were the search engines pulling my leg?!)

Radishes aside, I chose three seasonal plants to feature in my Christmas mandala, holly, mistletoe and a central poinsettia flower.

Holly, which as we’ve seen has been symbolic of Christmas for a great many years and even longer as a symbol of winter as a whole).

The same is true for Mistletoe. Being evergreen it is said to represent everlasting life. The Druids also believed it bestowed vitality and fertility because it could flower, even in a coldest of winters.

The custom of kissing under the mistletoe, however, only started a couple of hundred years ago. It was seen as bad luck to refuse someone a kiss if they caught you under the mistletoe at Christmas. 

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Both holly and mistletoe, which are both native to the UK, have been entwined with English traditions going back centuries. Poinsettias, in contrast, came from Mexico where they were known as the Mexican Flame Flower.

Poinsettias first became associated with Christmas during the 1500s in Guatemala and Mexico, thanks to a local legend. One version of the story tells of a girl called Maria who was too poor to offer a gift at church for Christmas. An angel told her to collect weeds and place them on the church altar. So Maria, without questioning this, gathered many weeds and to the dismay of onlookers, placed them around the altar. Much to everyone’s surprise the weeds burst into blossom bearing bright red blooms and transformed into a blazing display of poinsettias. 

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 Free printable Christmas card to colour

Download my free printable Christmas card to colour and it  print on A4 paper or a computer compatible card for some festive colouring. I’ve three versions here to choose from.

FREE CHRISTMAS MANDALA GREETINGS CARD DOWNLOAD – already poisoned to the right ready to fold into an A5 card. You can trim the paper down to a square card if you wish.

SINGLE – FREE CHRISTMAS MANDALA DOWNLOAD – a centred design to print on to A4 paper or card

DOUBLE – FREE CHRISTMAS MANDALAS TO DOWNLOAD – two positioined side by side to print on to A4 paper or card


Tips on colouring your Christmas Mandala

I used Arteza Watercolour Real Brush Pens to colour my design. I have the 96 pen set which I keep in this maker carrying case (affiliate links) and used three shades of green and one shade of red. I used them dry to create strong opaque colours.

I recommend colouring the green holly leaves first, followed by the red holly berries. That helps avoid colouring any of the mistletoe berries in red by mistake. Similarly with the poinsettia, colour the green leaves first, followed by the red bracts (modified leaves). The flowers of the poinsettia are actually the central little yellow flowers. I left mine white but you could colour yours in yellow or even gold.

  • Holly leaves – Pine Green A106
  • Poinsettia leaves – Basil green A113
  • Mistletoe leaves – Olive Green A146
  • Holly berries and poinsettia bracts – Red A 101

Homemade Christmas Cards

This CHRISTMAS MANDALA GREETINGS CARD DOWNLOAD is sized to print onto printer compatible A4 card, ready to be folded in half to form an A5 greetings card.

Alternatively, trace it onto blank 6-inch square cards* which can be purchased from numerous online craft suppliers. They usually come with matching envelopes.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

My Christmas mandala online art class

If you’d like to learn how to draw this design yourself, join me for a live online art class via Zoom through Craft Courses, between now and the 6th January.

Christmas mandala art class party

You can book a private group online art class by emailing me at for an alternative way to spend time with friends and family over the holidays, even when you can’t see them in person. Traditional mandala art classes are also available.

Seasons greetings

While we may not be able to see all our friends and family this holiday season, I do hope you all have a wonderful festive time nevertheless. And I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2021.

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