Why are Ghosts White?
Ghosts could be any color in the world, but most people believe that they are white because all of the original stories had them in that color. They also just make sense to be white because if you used any other color, they wouldn’t work in some settings as well as they do in white. White isn’t the scariest color by itself, but you imagine a dead human being in a translucent white, and it becomes a much freakier image.
You’d have to believe that the reason why ghosts are pretty much universally thought of as being white is because they are almost invisible and white is the easiest color to see at night. The night effect is what makes ghost stories scary and just about all of the so called sightings that have happened over time were at night. It’s not as much that ghosts are white as that is how we all would imagine them to be.
White could also be the color chosen because people have always used white sheets to dress up as ghosts. During Halloween time, the darkness of the night makes the white sheets look brighter, which makes it more of a mystery of who is inside of them. Black could work for this as well, but white has just has always been the universal color for the dead ghosts. Just go to a Halloween store and you will see that every single one of the ghost outfits will be some sort of white.
White isn’t the traditionally the scariest color in the world, but it sure does work when you are thinking about ghosts moving around in the dark. Just watch any movie that have any ghosts in them. You’ll see that they are always either a bold white or a lightly tinted white. Simply put, the reason why ghosts are white is because they always have been.
July 18, 2010 5:07 pm
There are a variety of details on ghosts and their history here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost
While I’ll avoid parroting the article, I’ll add a small detail which might help address the question (which may be better phrased as “why are ghosts _often_ depicted as white?”).
When people die, they become much paler. As ghosts are often meant to represent the dead, it would make sense that they would be extremely pale (and even white) versions of those people.