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Wonderful Winter White, Its Meaning and Variety

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I like to delve into the history, costuming, foods, and customs of places and holidays. World cultures and traditions are fascinating.

Trivia Facts about the Color White

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I

Symbolism and History

This page catalogues some of the ways we use white, which is the combined spectrum of light. It has a place in our view of weddings, interiors, and even foods. Like all hues, the popularity and use of it changes over time.

When White was a Sign of Luxury

During Elizabethan times there were laws called the "Sumptuary Laws" which dictated who could wear the color white. Queen Elizabeth I wore white. "People who were allowed to wear the color white during the Elizabethan era, as decreed by the English Sumptuary Laws, were lower and upper classes"; apparently, the rich wore a pristine white which was difficult to produce and keep clean, while the poor could wear "the natural, cheap, off-white color of wool "

Did You Know?

White cats are a symbol of good luck in America.

A white flag is the universal symbol for truce.

White means mourning in China and Japan.

Literary Expressions of Whiteness

Shakespeare's Hamlet, 1602:

... What if this cursed hand

Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,

Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens

To wash it white as snow?

-William Shakespeare

Shakespeare used snow as a symbol for purity and whiteness in several plays, in The Winter's Tale and Macbeth, as well as Hamlet.

A Few Phrases

Lawn as white as driven snow, Cyprus black as e'er was crow, Gloves as sweet as damask roses, Masks for faces and for noses, Bugle bracelet, necklace amber, Perfume for a lady's chamber, Golden quoifs and stomachers For my lads to give their dears, Pins and poking-sticks of steel, What maids lack from head to heel.


Bonus fact:

The word 'nixious' means 'as white as snow'

As White As Snow

winter snows by ilonagarden

winter snows by ilonagarden

Many Shades of Pale

Many hobbies, and fashions show the fascination that people have with the color white. 'Whitework' embroidery, white gardens, white interior decorating schemes, white weddings, those topics and more are where we direct our lens to understanding more about this color, which is the sum of all colors.

There is something clean and refreshing about the color white, and "white as snow" means something very pure. Yet, "whitewash" can mean the opposite, with an ominous reference to there being something not quite right, or downright wrong and covered over. Yet, when you want to refresh the eye, a strong dose of 'whitespace' is just what is needed.

Let's look at white ...

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How Do We See The Color "White"?

"We perceive color when the different wavelengths composing white light are selectively interfered with by matter (absorbed, reflected, refracted, scattered, or diffracted) on their way to our eyes, or when a non-white distribution of light has been emitted."

"Color is light. Light is electromagnetic radiation and over a range of wavelengths it makes an impression on the human eye. This range of wavelengths is the visual spectrum.

When light hits an object some wavelengths are absorbed and others are reflected. We see the reflected wavelengths of light as color. When all the wavelengths in the visual spectrum are absorbed we see black and when all are reflected we see white. When some are absorbed and some are reflected we see different colors of the spectrum." -


Science of Color

People respond favorably to white, and it promotes trust.

White reflects light and is considered a summer color.

The fact that white is seen as such is due to a reflection of almost all incident light, so that no one hue is apparent.

"Snow is actually colorless. It appears white because light is so scattered when it hits the snow reflecting back all the colors in light. Depending on where you find the snow, snow can actually appear red, blue, black, or green.

As light hits the snow on the ground, there are so many locations for light to be reflected, that no single wavelength of light gets absorbed or reflected with any consistency. Most all of the white light from the sun hitting the snow will reflect back and still be white light. Therefore, snow on the ground appears white." - Life in Color

The psychological effect: of the color white is to bring feelings of peace and comfort.." White can be used to give yourself a feeling of freedom and uncluttered openness. Too much white can give feelings of separation and can be cold and isolating"

White hair has lost its pigment.

White is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.

— Gilbert Keith Chesterton




Positive: Hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanness, simplicity, sophistication, efficiency.

Negative: Sterility, coldness, barriers, unfriendliness, elitism." -



The Well-dressed Woman's Classic

White pearls never seem to go out of fashion. They speak of the sea, and their iridescence flatters skin of every shade and age. Pearls seem to be in the domain of women, much more than men, perhaps for this reason. They are soft and can be scratched, but they only grow better with natural oils from the skin or in ocean air.



About Those Pearls

Of their color, my favorite is soft white, but Wikipedia reports:

"Earrings and necklaces can also be classified on the grade of the color of the pearl. While white, and more recently black, saltwater pearls are by far the most popular, other color tints can be found on pearls from the oceans. Pink, blue, champagne, green, black and even purple saltwater pearls can be encountered, but to collect enough of these rare colors to form a complete string of the same size and same shade can take years."

PBS History of Pearls

White Diamonds - rating diamonds by color

diamond ring

diamond ring

The finest quality diamond is totally colorless. Diamonds are rated for color, among other qualities. Graded as a "D" color diamond a colorless diamond is considered absolutely free from any color, and is valued all over the world. Most diamonds in jewelery are white diamonds. A rating system is used for color in white diamonds, from "D" to "Z" ,with D being "colorless" and Z having a bright yellow hue.

Impurities and structural imperfections cause different colors in diamonds. Interestingly, some highly colored diamonds, which are rare, are most valued.

Little Girls in White Summer Dresses


White Dresses and White Weddings

Summer holds an invitation to wear white

The purity of white has come to symbolize the brides gown in European influenced cultures. We love the cool feeling that white gives us in summertime, when the temperatures rise and colors burst around us.

White holds a simplicity which works well with textures and intricacies of fabrics and lace... layers of texture never seem too much when done in a white on white palette.


Bridal White

Not all bridal gowns are a pure white, but in the popular mind, that is the color we think of first for wedding gowns. Some are shades of white, ranging to ivory, and some brides chose to have tints of color.

Interestingly, this color was not always the main choice for Brides. It only became popular after Queen Victoria of England lead the way by her example.

White Flower Bouquets

White flower bouquets are very popular with Brides, and flowers can be one of the most expensive items in the wedding plans. One color bouquets of white might be the easiest type to do well yourself ( you will be too busy, but not a friend or relative who would like to help you). With a D-I-Y book flowers can be easy.




beautiful embroidery technique

Embroidery technique in which the stitching is the same color as the fabric (traditionally white linen). Often used for baby christening gowns.

Eyelet Embroidery is often a type of whitework.

White Gardens


White gardens are made of completely or predominately white or cream colored blossoms, grey foliage, and white variegated plantings. The effect is cool and striking. Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West has one of the most famous white garden examples in the world.

Make a White Garden

The Meaning of Flowers

Blanc Double De Coubert

Blanc Double De Coubert

White Carnations

White color in a carnation denotes a pure love and its meaning is of admiration, honor and gratitude.It was often given to a teacher.

White carnations can also stand for a wish for good luck.

The Message Of A White Rose

White roses have the meaning of "Purity, Innocence, Sympathy, Spirituality".Early traditions also used white roses as a symbol for true love, but that has been replaced by the red rose in modern thinking. Commonly chosen as a traditional wedding flower in the bridal bouquet.

Single White Rose symbolizes someone that wants to say 'I'm sorry'. They can also send an "I miss you" message

A White Rose

Paint Colors

Benjamin Moore paints

Benjamin Moore paints

All White Interiors - just don't let the kids loose

Everyone has seen them, because all white interiors are so sophisticated in feeling, but many people live with color and let the fashion magazines have their pure white rugs and sofas. All white kitchens and bathrooms, with their hard surfaces are popular ways to have an all white interior. Usually unrelieved by color accents or the interplay of textures, such rooms have a sterile feeling

A lot of white can be used in a practical way as well, though. and lend a light filled interior with an open and fresh feeling. Beach cottages, Seaside houses, and Old Farmhouses all benefit from lots of white, used in paint and fabrics.


Interior Effects

Decorators never tire of it, and all white schemes are a perennial presentation. For the life of me I cannot understand why white carpeting would be desired when you have a growing household. Yet, the draw of that pristine look keeps it top in many new home designs.

White Color Scheme Decor

All White Bedroom

Pleasing White Paints:

  • Benjamin Moore's Moonlight White
  • Benjamin Moore's Dove White

Using this scheme on walls is another proposition altogether. Many love white walls, and a satin or eggshell finish paint is easy to clean. The open feel, and the way this color on wall and ceiling can blend all the other elements of a room together makes it a favorite choice.

Winter and Silver Shades

Winter white is an "off-white" : in more of the cream range, but not too yellow, though it is a warm rather than cool tone. Ivory is the range of pale yellow tones to cream white.

Hair is rarely called "white", it is usually designated as silver. Perhaps due to the fact that for many it is mixed with gray or darker hair.

Of the many shades of white, while a yellow cast is beloved in clothing and interior paint colors, it is eschewed in hair color. A blue cast is given through the use of shampoos which reflect the light in a more attractive shade.

"Snow White" Fairytale

Snow White

"A little daughter, who was as white as snow, with lips as red as blood, and her hair was as black as ebony, and she was therefore called little Snow-White" so the fairytale goes, and the very pale skin is the origin of the name. Of course, "white skin" is not a pure white color, but simply very pale with less melanin, the pigment that colors human skin.


Make A White Pizza Pie:

New York-Style White Pizza

Posted by Kerry Saretsky


* 1 New York-Style Pizza Dough ball, 12 ounces (recipe follows, or buy from your local pizzeria)

* Unbleached high-gluten or bread flour, cornmeal, or semolina flour for dusting peel

* 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon dried or chopped fresh thyme

* 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

* 1/2 cup White Sauce (recipe follows)

* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

* 5 cups (22 1/2 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour

* 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar or honey

* 2 teaspoons table salt or 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

* 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

* 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil or solid vegetable shortening

* 1 3/4 cups room-temperature water (70°F)

* 2 tablespoons olive oil

* 1 small yellow onion, diced

* 2 clove garlic, minced

* 1/4 cup heavy cream

* 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or marjoram

* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat on the highest setting for at least 1 hour. Shape the dough ball using the toss-and-spin method, stretching it to a diameter of about 12 inches. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick and slightly thicker toward the edge. Transfer the dough to a peel or an inverted sheet pan that has been dusted with flour.

In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, salt, thyme, and pepper. Spread the White Sauce over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border uncovered. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the White Sauce.

Carefully slice the pizza from the peel onto the baking stone. It should take about 12 minutes to make. When it is done, the crust should be crisp and slightly charred on the edge and the cheese should be bubbling and just beginning to caramelize. The underside of the crust should be brown and crisp, not white and soft.

Remove the finished pizza from the oven and garnish it immediately with the parsley. Let the pizza cool for about 3 minutes before slicing and serving. If you want a "snappier" crust, let the pizza cool completely, then return the individual slices to the hot oven for recrisping.

White Sauce

- makes about 1/2 cup -

In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 or 6 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute longer. Add the cream, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the cream thickens and reduces slightly.

Remove from the heat, stir in the thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool completely before using.

New York-Style Pizza Dough

With a large metal spoon, stir together all the ingredients into a 4-quart bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer until combined. If mixing with an electric mixer, fit it with the dough hook and mix on a low speed for 4 minutes, or until all the flour gathers to form a coarse ball. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then mix again on medium-low speed for an additional 2 minutes, or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and sticks just a little to the bottom. If the dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful. If mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the spoon into room-temperature water and use it much like a dough hook, working the dough vigorously into a coarse ball as you rotate the bowl with your other hand. As all the flour is incorporated into the ball, about 4 minutes, the dough will begin to strengthen; when this occurs, let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then resume mixing for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is slightly sticky, soft, and supple. If the dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful; if it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful.

Immediately divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Round each piece into a ball and brush or rub each ball with olive or vegetable oil. Place each ball inside its own zippered freezer bag. Let the balls sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then put them in the refrigerator overnight or freeze any pieces you will not be using the next day.

The next day, remove the balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to roll them out to take off the chill and relax the gluten.

White Foods - A Very Old Obsession



Victorian Delight


Meaning "white dish", has a quite venerable past. One of the most widely shared menu items in many Medieval countries, it was considered a delicacy and a food for aristocratic tastes. Changing over centuries from a maindish meal to the Victorian rendition which was a pudding dessert. The one remaining feature is the white color.

I first heard of Blanmange when reading "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott. Apparently it was all the rage to serve at a social gathering in those years surrounding the Civil War.

white sands

white sands

White Sands National Monument

located in New Mexico

The White Sands National Monument is the world's largest gypsum dunefield.

"The pure gypsum (hydrous calcium sulfate) that forms these unusual dunes originates in the western portion of the monument from an ephemeral lake or playa with a very high mineral content. As the water evaporates (theoretically as much as 80" per year!), the minerals are left behind to form gypsum deposits that eventually are wind-transported to form these white sand dunes."

Where it is fine to whitewash... - write a note here

chimneypipe3 on December 09, 2011:

nice lens. thanks.

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