Woman in black dress holding pumpkin

Why Are Orange and Black Associated With Halloween?


The fall season is in full swing and, for many, it's the most wonderful time of year. Halloween is right around the corner and decorations covered in the colors of Halloween are turning up around houses up and down each street. Hocus Pocus and movies about ghouls, mummies, goblins, vampires and Frankenstein are on frequent rotation on our television screens. Orange pumpkins and black cats galore! Trick-or-treaters dressed in fun and scary Halloween costumes will soon be stopping by. Some people will paint their nails black and orange, and those who are really excited about the holiday will wear festive black and orange clothes.

While other countries celebrate this holiday a little differently than Americans, it's safe to say that our Halloween colors and decorations are widely recognized. Just like red and green are considered Christmas colors, orange and black have come to represent the spooky holiday. Have you ever wondered exactly why our Halloween colors are black and orange? Interestingly enough, black and orange weren't always associated with Halloween.

The History of Halloween Colors

Our ghostly traditions apparently began over 2,000 years ago with the Celts. They believed that the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead were blurred right before the new year.

According to History.com, "[Halloween] is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts."


People also wore black clothing to the bonfires, traditionally a sign of mourning, to honor their late relatives.

The Color Combinations of Orange & Black

We all know it's a staple of nearly every Halloween party. So when did the color orange come into play?

As we all know, orange is representative of various fall symbols, like pumpkins, fall leaves and harvest season. Carved pumpkins, also known as Jack-o'-lanterns, originated in Ireland, where people would carve lanterns out of potatoes and turnips to celebrate the Irish myth of Stingy Jack.

When the Irish immigrants came to the United States, they brought this tradition with them. As all traditions do, this one evolved. Today, it can be seen via the artistic and fun pumpkins you see along the streets in your neighborhood.


As Bustle says, the colors were likely paired together because of the strong contrast of the two hues.

So when you pair your orange sweater with black slacks this year, just know that you're part of a centuries long Halloween tradition.


While it may not be one of the traditional Halloween colors, in more recent years the color purple has been added to the Halloween color palette. So how did this come to be? According to the Scientic American, a study showed that purple is often associated with children and laughter. So the incorporation of purple into our yearly Halloween decor could be a sign of the increased commercialism of the holiday. It's also a way to make the creepiness of Halloween decorations and costumes more palatable to children.



This article previously ran in October of 2020. It was updated on Oct. 3, 2022. 

READ MORE: Display Creepy Creatures on Your Home With This Halloween Projector

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