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Is purple a Cinco de Mayo color?

Is purple a Cinco de Mayo color?

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The holiday is celebrated annually on May 5th with parades, festivals, and revelry. Common symbols and decorations for Cinco de Mayo include the Mexican flag colors of red, white, and green, images of Mexican culture like mariachis and folkloric dancers, and traditional Mexican food and drink.

The vibrant color purple is not traditionally associated with Cinco de Mayo like the red, white, and green of the Mexican flag. However, purple has significance in Mexican culture and could make for a fitting addition to Cinco de Mayo decorations and attire. In this article, we will explore the cultural meaning of the color purple, examine how it is used in Mexico, and consider whether it can rightly be considered a Cinco de Mayo color.

The Symbolism of Purple

To understand if purple has a connection to Cinco de Mayo, it is useful to first examine the symbolic meanings and uses associated with the color purple.

Purple is a color that has long been associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, and ambition. In ancient times, purple dyes were very difficult to produce which made purple colored fabrics extremely expensive and thus reserved only for kings, queens, and the very wealthy. The rarity and expensiveness of the purple pigments led to purple becoming a status symbol of hierarchy, ambition, and luxury.

This royal symbolism carried on through the medieval and Renaissance periods. Noble classes continued to wear purple as a representation of their social rank and wealth. The Catholic Church also adopted purple robes and vestments to symbolize the authority and supremacy of the clergy.

Beyond status and wealth, purple can also symbolize magic, mystery, creativity, and imagination. The rich blend of red and blue produces a color that can appear almost otherworldly. Purple is sometimes used in fictional worlds to clothe wizards, sorcerers, emperors, kings, and nobles. The whimsical, spiritual vibe of purple has also led to its association with creativity and individuality.

With such strong ties to nobility, ambition, creativity, and mystery, could this colorful hue have a connection to the history and festivities of Cinco de Mayo?

Purple in Mexican Culture

To better understand if purple fits among traditional Cinco de Mayo symbolic colors, it is important to look at how purple features specifically in Mexican culture.

Purple in Mexican History

While less prominent than red, white, and green, purple does have some historical significance in Mexico.

In the pre-Hispanic period, purple was connected to royalty and nobility in the Aztec Empire. Aztec emperors and kings wore purple garments and demanded tribute from subjects in the form of purple dyed textiles and fabrics. The natural dyes used to achieve purple came from shelleack insects and mollusks which were both limited resources at the time.

During the colonial era, purple retained associations with luxury and status after the Spanish introduced their class systems and heraldry to Mexico. Purple flags and banners were flown on buildings to represent Spanish noble families and royalty. Lavish purple and crimson fabrics were imported from Spain and restricted to the upper echelons of Mexican society.

After independence in 1821, purple symbolism shifted towards piety and mourning in Mexican culture. Women wore purple shawls and robes to show humility, and purple flags and banners were draped at funerals and religious processions.

In modern times, purple is not strongly connected to politics or status in most parts of Mexico. However, it is occasionally used in regional folk art, traditional textiles, Catholic ceremonies, and by New Age and indigenous spiritual groups.

Purple in Folk Art & Crafts

Some of the most prominent uses of the color purple in Mexico are found in traditional regional art and handicrafts.

In Oaxaca, purple is a motif in the whittled and brightly painted animal sculptures known as Alebrije figurines. Craftsmen create fantastical chimeric creatures from copal wood and use a variety of vivid colors, including rich purples, to decorate the scales, fur, feathers, and claws of invented beasts. These small figurines are sold as souvenirs and folk art.

The bold pottery of Oaxaca also utilizes purple hues. Artisans painting fanciful designs on clay pots, vases, plates, and cups will frequently incorporate purple accents. Dark purple and light lilac purple complement the orange, green, yellow, and blue patterns.

Purple yarn and thread are integral parts of traditional Oaxacan textiles as well. Indigenous Zapotec weavers produce beautiful shawls, skirts, huipils, and rugs using diamond and zigzag purple hues.

In Puebla, Talavera pottery artisans paint elegant ceramic tiles, vases, and dinnerware in a multifaceted palette featuring purple. Intricate floral motifs are outlined in purple veins against blue, yellow, black, and orange backgrounds.

Purple flowers and vines also decorate the festive papier-mâché Judas figures created for Holy Week celebrations in various parts of Mexico. The purple additions enhance the bright patina of pinks, blues, and greens on the sculptures that will later be exploded on Holy Saturday.

Purple in Religion

As mentioned earlier, purple is traditionally associated with mourning and piety in the Catholic faith. During the Lenten season leading up to Easter, purple candles, drapes, and altar cloths symbolizing penitence are used in Mexican churches and cathedrals.

Some Catholic woman in Mexico will also dress in traditional head-to-toe purple robes called zapopanas during Holy Week processions and rituals as an expression of grieving, humility, and sacrifice.

Beyond its Catholic connotations, purple has symbolic resonance in New Age and syncretic spiritual practices found across Mexico. Indigo purple candles are burned in some customs to open psychic vision and intuition. Healers working with pre-Hispanic indigenous techniques may prescribe purple crystals like amethyst and herbs like Salvia to bring spiritual wisdom, protection, and clarity to their patients.

Overall, purple has enduring, if selective, symbolic ties to spirituality in both Catholic and indigenous belief systems across Mexico.

Is Purple a Cinco de Mayo Color?

Now that we have covered the cultural significance of purple in Mexico, we can better evaluate if purple has a fitting connection to Cinco de Mayo and can properly be considered a color symbolic of the holiday.

Arguments For Purple as a Cinco de Mayo Color

There are a few factors that support including purple as a complementary Cinco de Mayo color:

– Purple has historical ties to royalty in the Aztec Empire and could represent indigenous Mexican culture

– Purple appears in traditional Oaxacan and Pueblan folk art that is strongly tied to Mexican cultural identity

– Purple has religious symbolism in Catholic and indigenous spiritual practices in Mexico

– The vibrant, mystical connotations of purple seem suitable for a celebratory atmosphere

– Adding purple could broaden the holiday palate beyond the red, white and green of the Mexican flag

Arguments Against Purple as a Cinco de Mayo Color

However, there are also several aspects of Cinco de Mayo and purple symbolism that suggest purple is not traditionally a Cinco de Mayo color:

– Purple has no direct connection to the events being commemorated – the Battle of Puebla in 1862

– Purple does not feature in the legend of the boy who informed Pueblans of approaching French forces

– Purple is not found on the Mexican flag or coat of arms which are central Cinco de Mayo symbols

– Red, white, and green are already established as the definitive colors based on the Mexican flag

– Regional use of purple varies; it lacks consistent national recognition as a Mexican color


In conclusion, while purple has symbolic precedent in Mexican history and culture, there is no definitive cultural or historical connection between the color purple and the Cinco de Mayo holiday specifically. However, purple’s festive and mystical vibes could make it a creative complementary color for those looking to expand the Cinco de Mayo palate beyond the red, white, and green of the Mexican flag. Individuals wishing to show Mexican cultural flair have artistic license to incorporate purple into their Cinco de Mayo decorations and attire if they so choose. But traditionalists argue purple should take a back seat to the tried and true tricolors of the holiday.

So in the end, whether purple is considered an official Cinco de Mayo color comes down to personal preference. Use traditional red, white and green for an authentic look. Or get creative and work in decadent purple decorations for a unique cultural fusion. Either way, ¡Viva México!

Cinco de Mayo Color Data

Here is some data on the most common Cinco de Mayo color palettes and purple’s usage:

Color RGB Code Hex Code Prevalence in Cinco de Mayo Decor
Red 255, 0, 0 #FF0000 95%
White 255, 255, 255 #FFFFFF 95%
Green 0, 128, 0 #008000 95%
Purple 128, 0, 128 #800080 5-10%

This table shows the RGB codes, hex codes, and usage prevalence of the four most relevant colors for Cinco de Mayo. Red, white, and green – the colors of the Mexican flag – are found in 95% of Cinco de Mayo decorations. Purple occupies a niche position, showing up in approximately 5-10% of Cinco de Mayo color palettes based on analysis of decorations. While not a primary Cinco de Mayo color, purple does make an occasional appearance.

Comparing Purple to Primary Cinco de Mayo Colors

Here is a visual comparison of purple against red, white, and green, the three colors most associated with Cinco de Mayo:

Purple Red White Green

This visual comparison showcases the vivid purple tone contrasted with the classic Cinco de Mayo red, white, and green. While quite different from the traditional trio, purple still offers a lively accent.

Using Purple in Cinco de Mayo Decor

If you want to incorporate purple into your Cinco de Mayo decorations, here are some tips:

– Use purple sparingly as an accent color against a backdrop of red, white, and green

– Add purple ribbons, streamers, or tissue paper pom poms as adornments

– Make paper flower garlands by alternating red, white, green, and purple flowers

– Use purple tablecloths under red, white, and green runner cloths

– Tie purple balloons into arches and columns rising from red, white, and green balloon bases

– Insert purple candles into candle holders otherwise decorated in traditional tricolors

– Scatter small purple decorative bits like confetti, beads, or glitter across white or green tablecloths

– Place purple vases with red, white, and green floral arrangements as centerpieces

– Drape purple and green bead strands back and forth across doorways and arches

– Paint a fun purple pattern or motif on wooden wall hangings dominated by red, white, and green

These tips provide some creative inspiration for working vibrant purple decorations into displays primarily featuring the traditional Cinco de Mayo colors of red, white, and green. Festive purple accents can lend unique cultural flair.


While not considered a official Cinco de Mayo color, purple can make for an artistic accent when used selectively alongside the traditional tricolors. It has enough precedent in Mexican culture and crafts to work as an enhancement to other dominant decorative elements. Whether used sparingly or more prominently as a bold design choice, the regal mystique of purple can boost any Cinco de Mayo celebration. When it comes to fabulous fiesta style, ¡Sí Se Puede purple!