Colour & design surgery… why are Halloween colours orange and black?

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller
Colour Symbolism - Halloween. This opens a new browser window.

This is part of the colour & design surgery series, answering questions from clients and readers.

Question: “Why are Halloween colours orange and black?”
– reader, Tamsin Fox-Davies.

Answer: Researching into the colours of Halloween it’s fascinating to find its roots are in a festival dating back over 2,000 years to Celtic times.

A bit of history

The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1 to mark the end of the harvest time and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, which was often associated with death. They believed on the eve (All Hallow’s Eve = Hallowe’en) before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead becomes blurred, when it was believed the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. ooh, all rather spooky…

Colour origins

It is thought orange and black became the colours associated with Halloween as orange is associated with harvests (Halloween marking the end of harvest time) and black being associated with death.

The ying-yang of orange and black

Looking at the psychology of orange and black, it is interesting to see they are virtually the exact opposite of each other.

Orange represents fun, warm, abundance.  It’s a great colour to stimulate social interaction and conversation and that’s what celebrating Halloween is all about, fun and socialising with family and friends.

Black on the other hand represents darkness, mystery, the unknown.  It can appear menacing and scary.

Colour Symbolism - Halloween - colours of harvest and death.
Colour Symbolism. Representing the colours of harvest and the mysterious unknown.

Wishing you a ‘spooktacularly’ colourful Halloween,

Originally posted October 2011. Updated October 2023

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  1. Keren Lerner on October 31, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Fascinating! Interesting about the 2 opposites in terms of colour psychology. I love all things Halloween so I thought I would jump on here and say thanks for educating us just in time, before we have to put away our pumpkins and broomsticks for yet another year!

    • admin on October 31, 2011 at 8:39 am

      Hi Keren, I found that really interesting too. It’s interesting that it shows the light and the dark, good and evil, life and death.

  2. Tamsin Fox-Davies on October 31, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks for answering my question! It’s so interesting that orange and black have opposite meanings, and it’s those two things that really come together at Halloween too.

    • admin on October 31, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      You’re welcome. I thought it was really interesting too. The ying and yang of life….

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