Rainbows are one of the most fascinating and mysterious beauties our nature has to offer. What if we wouldn’t know that they appear because of the simple combination of rain and sun? Some people nowadays still believe that you can find a treasure when you are following the rainbow until its end.
But this is not the only association humans had with rainbows. Before science could explain this phenomenon, rainbows were often seen as divine and of course, different religions had different explanations for it.
You can find very interesting explanations in the mythologies of the Norse and the Greeks. In the Norse mythology, the rainbow is a bridge that connects the world of humanity with the world of gods. The name of this bridge is Bifrost and can only be used by gods and reverend humans like people killed in a battle.
In Greek mythology, Iris is the goddess of the rainbow and the messenger of the Olympian gods. Like in the Norse mythology, the rainbow serves as a connection between the humans and the gods as Iris uses it to bring messages. Furthermore, Iris is the goddess of the sun and the sea and is said to refill the clouds with the water from the sea when the rainbow appears above it.
Moreover, the rainbow serves as an interesting symbol in Christian belief. Every time you see it it should remind you that god will never destroy the world again with a flood.
Although you are probably not able to find a treasure at the end of the rainbow or to use it as a bridge to the sky, you can nevertheless enjoy its beauty by knowing why it appears on the sky. You could even say that you can see the real and beautiful light of the sun when you are looking at it. Why the real light of the sun? Light is invisible, isn’t it? The answer is: no, light has various colors; it has even colors only other animals are able to see. When the light of the sun appears white to us, it is only because all the colors are mixed up in one beam of light. But when the sun appears after some rain, the light shines into the raindrops that work like many small prisms. Now, every color of the light refracts in another angle because of their different wavelenghts. We now see the different colors on the sky because we look with a certain angle on the raindrops so that only one color refracted by one raindrop appears to us. So, we see the blue light on the bottom and the red light on the top of the rainbow because the blue light has a smaller angle of refraction than the red light. All the other colors we can see have again different angles. In the end, we are able to see the ”real” light of the sun: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. But if we would be a mouse or a cat that are able to see different colors than us, we would see a different rainbow. And even if we are only ten metres away from each other and when we have different angles to look at the sky, the rainbow appears different to us.
Therefore, if we see a rainbow on the sky, it is nevertheless something personal and fascinating. But who knows – maybe we will find our treasure one day, at least in our dreams.
– by Julia N. –