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Jewish yomim tovim: from the perspective of a graphic designer

Do the yomim tovim have their own design personalities?

rosh hashana photo and colors

With yom tov season in full swing, and the relevant designs being produced for months, I couldn’t help but notice a theme in color palettes commonly associated with each Jewish holiday. 

Similar to how each yom tov has its signature food (apple and honey for Rosh Hashana, latkes and donuts for Chanukah, etc.), they each also seem to have their own signature colors. 

I’m working backwards here from the colors that feel right to then find the characteristics commonly associated with them, and it brings up some interesting questions: 

  1. Do you have the same associations as I do, or do you think of different ones? 

  2. Why do these colors come up so often in association with that yom tov

    • Is it the foods we eat, the season/weather, the clothing we wear? 

    • Or is it because of the attributes and emotions associated with these colors? 

The first question is easier to test. 

(The second one I’ll explore by each yom tov below.)

Let’s play a little game.

Here are all of the color palettes without anything labeling which yom tov they’re for (no cheating and looking ahead for the answers!). Without me telling you, can you guess, based on just these colors, which yom tov each palette is referring to?

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Guess the yom tov color quiz

Done the quiz?

Let’s see if you came to the same conclusions as I did:


Passover color palette

In color theory, they represent these attributes: 

  • Maroon: focus, strength, passion, love

  • Gold: happiness, joy, inspiring, compassion 

Why do we think of these colors? 

Technically the color theory attributes could be connected to the spirit of Pesach, but they’re pretty vague and could therefore probably be connected to any yom tov throughout the year - there’s nothing unique about them specifically bringing to mind Pesach.

My theory is that these colors represent the foods we associate most-commonly with Pesach - four cups of red wine (maroon) and matzah (gold). 


Shavuot color palette

In color theory, they represent these attributes: 

  • Blue: bold, confidence, trust, peace, fun, friendly 

  • White: light, clean simplicity, peace, fresh

Why do we think of these colors? 

The white puts me in mind of the light from the luchos. 

But I think the answer might be even simpler than that.

These are just Summer colors and that season is on our mind during this time of year when we’re finally gearing up for warm weather. Also, if you count up the number of ice cream parties over Shavuos, it’s not surprising that ice cream-related soft, pastel colors are popular for Shavuos designs.

Yom Kippur 

Yom Kippur color palette

In color theory, they represent these attributes: 

  • White: quiet, simplicity, professional, clean, light, fresh 

  • Grey: dramatic, sophisticated, powerful, professional

  • Gold: happiness, joy, inspiring, warm, compassion

Why do we think of these colors? 

In this case, I do think that the color psychology is the reason for the colors of the yom tov. The dramatic, powerful, quiet, clean, fresh vibes from whites and grays perfectly represent the tone of the day of atonement when we daven and reach the level of malachim as the men wear their white kitels. The touch of gold adds elegance to this exquisitely holy day.

Rosh Hashana 

Rosh Hashana color palette

In color theory, they represent these attributes: 

  • Red: focused, energetic, love, passionate, strength 

  • Orange: bold, confidence, friendly, energetic, motivation

  • Yellow: happiness, joy, inspiring, warm, compassionate, confidence

Why do we think of these colors? 

And back to food! This one is pretty obvious - the classic Rosh Hashana colors are the same as the classic red apple with yellow inside, dipped in sweet golden honey.


Sukkot color palette

In color theory, they represent these attributes: 

  • Green: natural, adventure, growth, fresh

  • Yellow-Green: bold, creativity, fun, friendly, joy, inspiring 

Why do we think of these colors? 

Here, the colors appear to represent not so much the food of the yom tov but the mitzvos and atmosphere. On Sukkos we sit and eat surrounded by greenery and nature. We also shake the green lulav and yellow esrog daily. 

These colors embody the visuals we consume daily throughout the yom tov and therefore make perfect sense in the visuals we use to discuss the yom tov.


Hanukkah color palette

In color theory, they represent these attributes: 

  • Blue: confidence, efficiency, leadership, trust

  • Light blue: clean, authenticity, fresh, peace, optimism, trust 

  • Gold: happiness, joy, inspiring, warm, compassion 

Why do we think of these colors? 

My personal theory here - the colors of Chanukah come from the State of Israel. Modern Israelis have somewhat hijacked this yom tov as a sign of Jewish physical strength (Maccabees, etc.) and therefore Israeli-flag blue has become integrated into the yom tov’s visual language. 

Perhaps the gold represents the flame of the menorah candles. Or maybe just some added elegance and warmth.


Purim color palette

In color theory, they represent these attributes: 

  • Purple: luxury, creativity, mystery, spirituality, confidence 

  • Yellow-Orange: happiness, joy, inspiring, warm, compassion, creativity, energetic, fun, friendly  

Why do we think of these colors? 

Now these colors are perfectly in sync with the psychology of the day! 

As a day for people to unleash their creativity, add mystery with their costumes and v’nahapuch hu’s, and filled with joy and energy - vibrant purples and yellows, especially with their high-energy complementary relationship, portray these emotions perfectly. 


Do these colors come to your mind as well when thinking of the yomim tovim? 

Do you agree with my theories as to why we associate them, or do you think there are other answers as well? 


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