Why Blue?

Do you have your nativity scene up?

Sometimes it’s called a crèche, a manger scene, a Christmas crib, or Christ’s nursery. Either way, it is the depiction of the birth of Christ in the stable at Bethlehem. It is usually made of statues but there are places that have a “living nativity” with actual people!

The minimum is the “holy family”: Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus. To that can be added angels, shepherds, farm animals and, of course, the wise men with their gifts.

The central figure of the nativity scene, apart from Jesus, is Mary, his mother. She is always close to Jesus; never standing. She is also usually wearing blue; either a blue robe or a blue scarf around her head.

Why blue? (Thank you for asking!)

Not surprisingly, most colors have biblical, liturgical, or theological significance. Blue has recently begun to replace purple as the color of Advent because blue represents hope. This is a recent development, however, so doesn’t fully explain Mary’s depictions in blue which go back centuries.

In the Book of Numbers it reads that the Levites are to “spread over [the Ark of the Covenant] a cloth all of blue” (4:6). If we consider that the Ark carries within it the presence of God, then Mary is the “New Ark” who carries within her the Christ-child.

Blue, in Christian art, is the color of heaven. Red often symbolizes humanity (i.e. blood). This is why Mary is sometimes depicted wearing a red outer robe with a blue inner garment; meaning that within her humanity is wrapped the divinity of Christ.

In short, Mary is the one who conveys heaven to earth through the birth of Christ which is why she is so often shown wearing blue in one form or another.

I like the idea of blue not only for Mary but for everyone who takes their faith seriously. After all, Jesus said “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Heaven is within you. God is within you. Consequently, blue is your color!

It is a great way to remind yourself of your divine origins not only during Advent and Christmas, but throughout the year.

See you in church,
–Rev. Dominic