It’s always been there, ever present in the skies after a rain. Sometimes, you also see it near waterfalls or geysers. Rainbows are not only a fascination for man; it’s remained to this day, one of the most famous symbols of our time. But its many meanings are usually tinged with pathos.
How Rainbows are Formed
The simplest explanation is that water droplets act like tiny prisms. White light, which is composed of different wavelengths, passes through the droplets at an angle, disperses, and refracts to reveal the wavelengths visible to the human eye.
The arch (or half-circle) shape of the rainbow happens because light is dispersed at angles. This is where physics comes in. Because the longer red wavelengths are refracted at a steeper angle, based on your line of sight, you see them first. This also explains why you can see a full rainbow if you’re riding on planes (because the other half of a rainbow in fact, falls below the horizon, or outside our direct line of sight).
Rainbows are not just formed with raindrops. Splashes of water or mist can create them, too.
Rainbows Throughout History and Culture
Various religions across the world use rainbows as a symbol of hope. In the Bible, a rainbow appears in the sky before Noah after the great flood, a promise that the earth would never be flooded again. Rabbinic Judaism on the other hand, sees it as a representation of God’s divine anger and patience, especially if you’ve never seen one appear in your lifetime.
In Irish culture however, the hope that the colorful arch represents seem to be ever elusive. The lore states that leprechauns hid the pot of gold that they stole from the Vikings at the end of the rainbow. Untold riches await those who can get to it. But as rainbows are optical illusions – appearing to move as you do – no one can truly get their hands on that treasure.
For the Aboriginal people of Australia, this phenomenon is the manifestation of a rainbow-serpent, a very important and powerful spirit in their culture. In other tales, rainbows weren’t actual gods but were rather, bridges. In Norse mythologies, the rainbow or Bifröst, is a burning bridge connecting Asgard, the kingdom of gods, and Midgard, the realm of man.
Not all of these symbolisms are positive though. For instance: there were MesoAmerican societies that hid their children away whenever rainbows appeared because they believe it to be bad luck. The ethnic group Karen, from Burma, believed the colorful arches to be demons that will eat their offspring.
Significance of Rainbows Today
Rainbows are not just a welcome sight after a downpour or a storm. Today, in light of recent events, it represents hope, togetherness, and solidarity, too. Many groups fighting for social change have adapted the rainbow as their flag.
You can see them during peace marches and demonstrations. It’s a beautiful and prominent symbol for reconciliation, a quiet wish for harmony. Rainbows can also mean gratitude. So when you see these signs drawn on streets, walls, or given on cards, you know that it’s a silent ‘thank you’.
Rainbows are not confined to one meaning or culture. They can represent different things to different people. Make the rainbow your own, just like these beautiful rainbow quotes.
Colorful Rainbow Quotes
- “Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what’s on the other side?” – The Muppets
- “Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” – Judy Garland
- “No matter how far I’ll find my way to you, followin’ a rainbow.” – Colbie Caillat
- “If the rainbow had an eighth color, it would be you.” – Scarlet Lucia Rey
- “In life, you either choose to sing a rainbow, or you don’t. Keep singing.” – Kathleen Long
- “There is no envy, jealousy, or hatred between the different colors of the rainbow. And no fear either. Because each one exists to make the others’ love more beautiful.” – Aberjhani
- “Rainbows: The gift from heaven to us all.” – Anthony T. Hincks
- “We are rainbows, me and you. Every color, every hue.” – Miley Cyrus
- “No two people see the rainbow the same way.” – Anonymous
- “Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection – the lovers, the dreamers, and me.” – The Muppets
- “Don’t miss all the beautiful colors of the rainbow looking for that pot of gold.” – Anonymous
- “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou
- “The rainbow is a promise.” – Mary Clark Dalton
- “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton
- “The greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow.” – Unknown
- “Life throws challenges and every challenge comes with rainbows and lights to conquer it.” – Amit Ray
- “Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.” – Aberjhani
- “And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton
- “Life’s all about rainbows glitter and unicorns.” – Unknown
- “A rainbow is the product of physics working for your appreciation of beauty.” – Kyle Hill
- “Have faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come smiling through.” – Cinderella
- “I kind of view everybody like a rainbow. Everybody on the planet has all the colors of the rainbow inside.” – Alexia Fast
- “Thank you for always being my rainbow after the storm.” – Unknown
- “It takes sunshine and rain to make a rainbow. There would be no rainbows without sunshine and rain.” – Roy T. Bennett
- “Only those who have the habit of going the second mile ever find the end of the rainbow.” – Napoleon Hill
- “When it rains look for rainbows, when it’s dark look for stars.” – Oscar Wilde
- “When God puts tears in your eyes, it’s because He wants to put a rainbow in your heart.” – Unknown
- “The soul would have no rainbow…had the eyes no tears.” – John Vance Cheney
- “Rainbows introduce us to reflections of different beautiful possibilities so we never forget that pain and grief are not the final options in life.” – Aberjhani
- “If you want the rainbow, you have to deal with the rain.” – John Green
- “It’s when a rainbow smiles that sadness is banished from the land.” – Anthony T. Hincks
- “Count your rainbows, not your thunderstorms.” – Unknown
- “The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.” – Erik Erikson
- “Storm? Shine your light and make a rainbow.” – Richie Norton
- “It was the rainbow gave thee birth, and left thee all her lovely hues.” – H. Davies
- “Happiness doesn’t always come in pink. Learn to appreciate the rainbow.” – Richelle E. Goodrich
- “Look up to the sky You’ll never find rainbows If you’re looking down.” – Charlie Chaplin
- “There may be a storm now but expect the rainbow later. There is hope.” – Unknown
- “The rainbow is a part of nature, and you have to be in the right place to see it.” – Gilbert Baker
- “Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.” – Lord Byron
- “I wanted to write a book that talked about the emotions of children, which is the rainbow.” – Dolly Parton
- “Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second.” – Mattie Stepanek
- “One can make no better investment than the cultivation of a taste for the beautiful, for it will bring rainbow hues and enduring joys to the whole life.” – Orison Swett Marden
- “I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I’ve spent my entire life trying to get over it.” – Judy Garland
- “We live in a rainbow of chaos.” – Paul Cezanne
- “Leroy bet me I couldn’t find a pot of gold at the end, and I told him that was a stupid bet because the rainbow was enough.” – Rita Mae Brown
- “Let no one who loves be unhappy, even love unreturned has its rainbow.” – James M. Barrie
- “And as he spoke of understanding, I looked up and saw the rainbow leap with flames of many colors over me.” – Black Elk
- “…I write trying to recover our real memory, the memory of humankind, what I call the human rainbow, which is much more colorful and beautiful than the other one, the other rainbow.” – Eduardo Galeano
- “Always have a black bow, a white bow, a rainbow bow – those bows will match literally just about everything!” – JoJo Siwa
- “When there is love in the heart, there are rainbows in the eyes, which cover every black cloud with gorgeous hues.” – Henry Ward Beecher
- “Your true colors are beautiful like a rainbow.” – Cyndi Lauper
- “At the end of the dream, on the other side of the rainbow, there’s only light.” – Frederick Lenz
- “One can enjoy a rainbow without necessarily forgetting the forces that made it.” – Mark Twain
- “My dream is to fly. Oh, my rainbow it is too high.” – Ruslana Korshunova
- “Why would I spend my life chasing rainbows when I can be still and see them in their full beauty.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru
- “Love was a feeling completely bound up with color, like thousands of rainbows superimposed one on top of the other.” – Paulo Coelho
- “If a rainbow makes a sound, or a flower as it grows, that was the sound of her laughter.” – William P. Young
- “It’s greener on the other side, but it’s rainbows and gold on mine.” – Kailin Gow
- “I was afraid that I’d forgotten all the colors of the rainbow, but I know just where I can find them again.”- Megan Shepherd