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MARCH 21 – International Colour Day 2021. A day to relish the sheer joy of colour, especially at a time when we are all having to rapidly adapt to a world filled with uncertainty and challenges.

Look around, take a breath – wherever you are. We live in a world that is saturated in colour, from the softest pastel hues to the richest, vibrant brights.

International Colour Day was introduced in 2009 by the International Colour Association to recognise and celebrate the fact that colour is one of the most influential phenomena in people’s lives.

March 21 was chosen as, each year, March 21 is the equinox, whereby night and day are equally long, symbolising the complementary nature of light and darkness in all human cultures. The March equinox was chosen over the September equinox as the United Nations declared it the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The logo for International Colour Day (designed by Hosanna Yau of Hong Kong) represents two circles, forming an eye, with equal halves of each circle depicted in rainbow colours and black, representing light and darkness, day and night.

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Most of us have a favourite colour with some organisations citing Blue as the most favoured colour internationally. Each year a colour of the year is announced by Pantone, an international colour matching system used by graphic, fashion and product designers plus manufacturers across the globe.

Starting in 2000, each December, Pantone announces the Colour of the Year for the following year. The colour purportedly connects with the zeitgeist and is reached after lengthy discussions with representatives from various nations’ colour standards groups.

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Pantone Colour of the Year 2021 is Ultimate Gray and Illumination – only the second time two colours have been chosen for a single year (the other was in 2016 when Rose Quartz and Serenity were chosen).

Pantone describes the combination of these two tonally equal hues of grey (Ultimate Gray) and yellow (Illumination) as ‘a marriage of colour conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.

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This colour combination is particularly pertinent to the threat of covid-19 and climate change that the entire world is experiencing. In Pantone’s words:

“The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a colour combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.”

Ayurveda, an alternative medicine system with its historical roots in the Indian subcontinent, pairs certain colours with specific days of the week. Monday is the day to wear white, for example, Tuesday is red, Wednesday is green and Thursday is yellow. Friday is purple, Saturday blue and Sunday dark red (for the sun).

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One thing that is universally recognised about colour – and indisputable – is that colour is totally subjective. Colour of the Year? The best colour to wear? We all see it differently – which is another amazing fact about colour. So what is your favourite colour? What will be your favourite colour for 2021?

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