In Christian churches one of four colours – purple, green, gold (or white) and red – referred to as ‘liturgical colours’, are used for altar linen, clergy robes and various hangings.
The colour reflects the season, so that for instance in Advent purple is used, a colour of royalty because we are preparing to welcome the coming of a king. Purple is used again in Lent because it also symbolises suffering and pain.
At Christmas and Easter the colour changes to white or gold, both bright optimistic colours for festivals, times for joy and celebration.
Between the festivals green cloths symbolise all living things, renewal and promise of new life.
And finally, red is the colour of fire, used in churches to celebrate Pentecost and saints’ days.