What Does Rain Symbolize?

Photo Courtesy: Elitsa Deykova/Getty Images

Everyone has a different outlook on rain. If you have somewhere to go or are already out and about, it can be a major inconvenience — especially if you’re stranded without an umbrella. However, when you’re safe and dry at home during a storm, there can be something soothing about watching and listening to the rain. 

Sure, rain is just part of life, but the weather event also has a deeper meaning when it comes to art and pop culture. So, what does rain represent? It kind of depends on the context. In some instances, rain is used to symbolize sadness, while other times it can be a symbol of cleansing and rebirth. With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at the many symbolic associations connected to rain. 

What Does Rain Symbolize?

Rain often comes with negative connotations. With the dark clouds that often come with storms, rain can be seen as a sign of sadness or foreboding of negative days ahead. With no sunlight in sight, rain can symbolize feelings of darkness, unhappiness, or bitterness.

 Photo Courtesy: Emilia Drewniak/EyeEm/Getty Images

Though rain has ominous meanings, this occurrence of nature also can be viewed from positive angles. It can be peaceful to hear raindrops outside and it can also be a symbol of cleansing and clarity. Rain is naturally good for cleaning the air, refreshing dry ground, and removing pollution. 

However, from a symbolic point of view, rain can be viewed as a metaphor for cleansing the heart and soul. It can symbolize a true transformation in one’s life when a conscious choice is made to turn over a new leaf and let go of any negativity. In film, a great example is the ending of The Lion King (1994), which sees rains cleanse the Pride Lands after Simba (voice of Matthew Broderick) has taken his rightful place. 

Rain can also symbolize a huge revelation or resolution, particularly when it comes to romance. For example, in the popular 2004 film, The Notebook, the lead characters Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) come to terms with their unresolved feelings for each other in the middle of a torrential downpour.

What Does Rain Mean Spiritually?

Rain has several different meanings when it comes to spirituality and religion. In the Christian faith, rain can represent the Holy Spirit, which is described as being released like rain upon the earth in several books of the Bible. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Bible also uses rain to symbolize a time of harvest, particularly after long seasons of drought and hunger. The harvest season takes time, patience, and work, even when it seems like all hope is lost. With great faith, Christians believe that God will constantly provide and pour out blessings like rain in due season, much like the harvest in the fall.

 Photo Courtesy: Colin Hawkins/Getty Images

In other instances, rain was used as punishment from God, particularly in the story of Noah where God is said to have wiped out the entire earth with a major flood. Only Noah, his relatives, and two of every land-dwelling animal species survived by ways of the huge ark God directed Noah to build. Even in that instance, in the book of “Genesis,” there was light at the end of the storm. god made a promise to never flood the earth again. That promise is said to show up in the form of a rainbow after every storm. That is a sign of restoration and rebirth as well.

In Hinduism, it is believed that gods send rain to bring about a good harvest and herds of cattle so that they can receive offerings of food from humans on earth. If the gods are happy and well-fed through these sacrificial offerings, they will continue to provide the rain and, ultimately, abundance. However, droughts, or even excessive rainfall, are seen as signs of a disconnect between the gods and humans.

Why Do We Get Sad When It Rains?

Although rain can be calming and provide a sense of relief or hope, many people find that their mood completely shifts during a rainstorm. You may feel unhappy and unproductive throughout the day. Feelings of uncertainty, despair and depression may pop up in the midst of a rainstorm. So, why do we get sad when it rains? 

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
 Photo Courtesy: Sally Anscombe/Getty Images

Let’s think of the natural circumstances that typically happen when it rains. The sun probably disappears and the sky is filled with dark clouds. In a practical sense, the sun does lift our spirits, hence the seasonal depression some folks experience in the winter. But a severe storm, and all that comes with it — destructive winds, thunder and lightning — may also get us thinking a bit existentially. It can be scary and daunting to deal with a storm because you don’t know what future problems the storm will bring or when the end of the storm is even coming.

Rain and storms can be symbols of the hard and uncertain times in life. Rain, unfortunately, can sometimes serve as a nasty confirmation that nothing will ever go right in our lives. In the midst of heavy rain, even the metaphorical (and literal) light at the end of the tunnel seems faraway.

Rain and Death Symbolism

Taking things one step further, rain can be a symbol of death. In Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel A Farewell to Arms, rain is seen throughout the story as a symbol of all of the bad events that happen in the lives of the characters. The rain is a symbol of the gloom and doom they often feel. The prime example is when the protagonist loses the love of his life. After leaving the hospital, he sadly walks home in the rain.

ADVERTISEMENT
 Photo Courtesy: RubberBall Productions/Getty Images

There is an optimistic view of rain and death, though. In the Victorian era, rain after the death of a loved one or during a funeral was believed to be a sign that the deceased was in heaven. Rain was thought to be the deceased expressing some sadness of leaving their loved ones behind and saying their goodbyes. Even though those left behind on earth may be sad to lose someone, they oddly can find comfort in the rain with this ideology.

Rain in Dreams Symbolism

If it rains in your dreams, it could be a good thing or a bad thing. Rain in dreams could mean forthcoming achievements and harvests, but it could also signify that obstacles are coming your way. For example, if you remember dreaming of rain, but can’t recall any other details, you might see some success soon. That simple dream may be the push you need to take charge of your life and believe in yourself and your abilities. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Moreover, dreaming of just hearing rain — or even getting wet while it’s raining — are also good omens. Those dreams mean peace, harmony and positive things will be coming to your life soon.

 Photo Courtesy: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

On the flip side, dreaming about rain in other circumstances can have a negative meaning. If you dream of heavy rain, that could mean that you are harboring a lot of anger in your life and need to work through conflicts with those around you. Dreaming of a particularly stormy sky can mean that you are dealing with depressive feelings and need to work toward releasing those for a more positive life.

Is Rain Good or Bad Luck?

With all of these different meanings of rain, many wonder if rain is good or bad luck. One would think dreary, rainy days would equate to bad luck, especially during big events like weddings. However, most people think that rain actually is a sign of good luck.

ADVERTISEMENT
 Photo Courtesy: Skynesher/Getty Images

Because it can represent change, renewal, and new beginnings, rain on wedding days is believed to be a good omen for the newlyweds. Rain on your wedding day is believed to wash away the negative experiences the couple may have gone through in the past and begin a new life together. It could also be good luck because, if they can weather the storms of life together like a physical one, the lovebirds will be successful in their marriage.  

Rain on other big days like your birthday or moving day also symbolizes a fresh start and confirmation that you’re moving in the right direction in life. Even rain on the first date can symbolize a new beginning and can be thought of as a positive omen for the future. 

Common Rain Metaphors

Because of its symbolism, rain is often used as a metaphor, especially in popular sayings. For example, one common metaphor or name for rain is “nature’s bath.” Just like how we take showers to clean our bodies, rain can be seen as cleansing the nature we see around us. Particularly after dry seasons without any precipitation, we see how useful and needed rain is to the ground, the trees, and other parts of nature.

 Photo Courtesy: Westend61/Getty Images

Another common phrase used for rain is “Into each life, a little rain must fall.” Of course, this doesn’t refer to actual rain falling on you wherever you go. The saying is metaphorical. It means that everyone will experience trials and tribulations (“rain”) throughout life. We can’t escape hard times, no matter how hard we try. However, many learn to cope and push through hard times, recognizing that rainy days won’t last forever. And, when all is said and done, the metaphorical rain may lead to a metaphorical beautiful rainbow or bountiful harvest.

ADVERTISEMENT