Byzantine liturgical colors follow a different pattern than those used in the Roman Catholic or Protestant churches.  The instructions for each day will require the celebrants to wear simply “bright” or “dark” vestments.  Therefore, celebrants have a wide variety of vestment colors to choose from on any day.  The definition of bright and dark does vary for each Byzantine church, so the scheme discussed here is not universal.   One church may regard a color, no matter the shade, as either bright or dark.  Therefore, one church may regard all shades of green as a bright color, while another would regard a dark green vestment as a dark vestment.  Colors can also take on different meanings in diverse cultures.  For instance, red is thought to be a dark color by churches of Carpatho-Rusyn origin, while the Russian Orthodox Church regards it as festive. [1]

Over time, the Slavic Byzantine churches began to associate distinct colors with certain seasons or dates.  Here is a partial list of colors, and when they are worn:

White:  All Sundays and throughout the Easter season.

Gold:  Can be a substitute for white and worn on feast days other than Easter.

Green:  Pentecost, feasts of prophets, Tuesdays (devoted to John the Baptist) and Palm Sunday. Green symbolizes new birth.  During Pentecost, spring flowers have blossomed, and trees will have sprouted their leaves.

Red:  Lent, Holy Week except for Holy Thursday, the Beheading of John the Baptist (August 29), the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14), the Procession of the Cross (August 1) and Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Bright red tends to be worn on the Exaltation of the Cross, while a darker red is used on the other days mentioned.  

Blue:  Feasts of the Virgin and the Dormition Fast (August 1-14)

Orange or Rust:  The Feast of Saint Peter and Paul, feasts of the Apostles, and Thursdays.  This color is used infrequently and other bright colors are worn instead.  

Black vestments are generally not worn as it is the absence of color.  However, its use has seeped into liturgical usage during Lent and especially on Good Friday.  Purple is also not a prescribed color, as it is the color of royalty and reserved for bishops. Again, some churches use a bright purple on Sundays in Lent and a darker purple for other days in Lent. Churches that do not use purple use white for Sundays in Lent and red on other Lenten days.

Again, this is only a rough guide since the guiding principle for liturgical colors is still “bright” and “dark”.

[1] Russian brides will often wear red wedding dresses.  Also, think of Red Square!