Symbolic Meanings of Green with Examples from Mythology

"A newly sprouted tree, a sparkling emerald, an attractive spring landscape, a vast forest... The vital energy of green is everywhere."

When it comes to green, people immediately think of nature elements such as grass, moss, trees, leaves and forests. However, there are many mythological and folkloric creatures depicted in green. Some of them are described as good and helpful, while others are described as malicious and deceitful. But statistically, the color green has mostly positive meanings in mythology and is associated with nature.

Green in European Mythologies

The color green was often associated with nature in Northern literature and art and symbolized eternity. In Norse cosmology, Yggdrasil, the gigantic sacred tree that connects the nine worlds, is depicted as an ash tree that stays green all year.

What Does the color Green Symbolize? Symbolic Meanings of Green
Yggdrasil (Oluf Olufsen Bagge – 1847)

According to ancient sources, there is no deity directly associated with the color green in Norse mythology. However, Freyr, the god of fertility, prosperity and harvest, is sometimes depicted in green by modern illustrators.

In Greek mythology, Demeter, daughter of Rhea and Kronos, is often associated with the color green. It should come as no surprise that an agricultural goddess is associated with green.

In Roman mythology, green is the color of Venus, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Ancient Romans used to honor the goddess Venus at the Veneralia Festival, held on April 1 each year.1

In Finnish mythology, Tapio is a kind of forest god or forest spirit. Today, illustrators often draw it with green skin or green leaves. In this respect he is similar to the Green Man in British and European folklore.2

What Does the color Green Symbolize? Symbolic Meanings of Green
Green Man
Photo: T S Peters (Wikimedia) ©️CC BY-SA 4.0

Green in Egyptian Mythology

Trees that shed their leaves every autumn turn green again in spring. Therefore, rebirth is often associated with the color green. Just as in Ancient Egypt…

In ancient Egypt, rebirth was often associated with the color green. This is why Osiris, the god of agriculture, rebirth and the dead, is depicted as green-skinned.

Green in Slavic Mythology

When it comes to green in Siberian folklore, one of the first things that comes to mind is Green Week. But before talking about Green Week, it is necessary to get to know Rusalka.

Rusalka is a kind of supernatural entity in Slavic folklore. The ancient Slavs used to believe that she lived in lakes. She is usually depicted with green hair or green skin. However, there are regional variations in the descriptions. She is depicted as an attractive fairy in some regions, and as an ugly woman in others.

Rusalka is often described as an entity that fascinates men. The men who followed her to the depths of the lake, captivated by her beauty, drowned and died.

Green Week, also known as Rusalka Week, is a festival of pagan origin among the ancient Slavs celebrated in early June. The ancient Slavs used to believe that Rusalka was much more dangerous during Green Week. For this reason, some Slavs had customs such as not swimming in lakes at the beginning of June.

Green in Turkic Mythology

In Turkic mythology, the color green and blue symbolizes the east and the sky.

The old Turkic word for green is “yaşıl”. Yaşıl comes from the word “yaş” which means “wet/humid”.

Yaşıl is also the name of one of the seven sons of Ülgen, the god of goodness and mercy. He is responsible for the greening of trees and the protection of nature.

According to Turkic myths, after Ülgen created man, he sent a raven to Kuday to ask for a soul. When the raven was returning after taking the soul, it saw a carrion on the ground. When the raven opened its mouth to eat the carrion, the soul in its beak fell into a forest with pine trees. So, that’s why pine trees do not shed their leaves today. Trees such as pine and juniper do not need Yaşılhan in the spring. Because, thanks to the soul that the raven drops into the forest, they preserve their greenery throughout the year.3

What Does the Color Green Symbolize? Symbolic Meanings of Green

Green is often associated with nature, vitality and life, as it is the color of plants. For this reason, the logos of environmental organizations such as Greenpeace are green. The green color is also dominant in the emblems of political parties that have programs based on ecology.

Because it is associated with nature, green also symbolizes spring and rebirth. For this reason, deities and mythological entities associated with spring, harvest, agriculture, fertility and prosperity are sometimes depicted in green.

In some societies, green symbolizes youth, hope and tolerance. However, it also has completely opposite connotations. The skin of sick people and poisonous liquids are often depicted in green.

Countries with Green Color in their Flag:

EuropeBelarus, Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Lithuania, Hungary, Portugal, San Marino
AsiaAfghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, Palestine, India, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Maldives, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Oman, Jordan
AfricaBenin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Algeria, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, South Africa, South Sudan, Cameroon, Kenya, Comoros, Congo, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe
North AmericaBelize, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
South AmericaBolivia, Brazil, Guyana, Peru, Suriname
OceaniaSolomon Islands, Vanuatu

  1. “Stars, Myths and Rituals in Etruscan Rome”, Leonardo MAGINI, Springer, 2014, ISBN: 9783319360010[]
  2. A Magical Night of Finnish Myths in Finland“, Margherita RAGG, The Fairytale Traveler, March 7, 2022[]
  3. Türk Mitolojisi, Cilt 1, Bahaeddin ÖGEL, Türk Tarih Kurumu, ISBN: 9751628497[]

Comments are closed.