Rainbows are not only magical illusions that are seen in or after a storm. There is a very interesting history and a lot of science behind the rainbow, some cultural and mythological influences as well as many variations. Excitingly they too are the inspiration for many a toy or room décor ideas.

Maya quote

Meaning of the word rainbow

The word rainbow is derived from Old English. The word ‘remora’ made up of the words for rain ‘reign’ and anything bent or arched ‘boga’.

What is a rainbow?

Wikipedia describes a rainbow as a meteorological phenomenon, whereby a spectrum of light appears in the sky as the result of reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets at the point when the sun is behind you. 

Rainbow variations

There are various kinds of rainbows which include, but not limited to:

Double Rainbow – When you see two rainbows.  This is where light is reflected twice inside a raindrop the top rainbow will appear lighter than the bottom rainbow.

double rainbow

Twinned Rainbow – A fairly rare occurrence where two rainbows appear to be joined at the same base.  This is caused when two rain-showers, each with different sized droplets, combine and produce the slightly different rainbows.

Monochrome Rainbow – If a rainbow appears to have only a red colour when it rains at either sunrise or sunset, then the shorter wavelengths, green and blue, are removed from the spectrum.

You may also encounter Full Circle Rainbows, Supernumerary Rainbows, Reflected Rainbows, Higher Order Rainbows, Moonbows, Fogbows, Sleetbows and various rainbows with different materials. See more here

Myths and Legends of Rainbows

  • Norse Mythology shows a rainbow called the Bifrost which connects the earth with Asgard, the home of the gods.
  • In Japan and Gabon rainbows are thought to bring human ancestors to earth.
  • Hindu culture teaches that the rainbow is the god Indra’s bow used to shoot arrows of lightening. Indra is an archer in Hindu mythology.
  • In Ireland it is believed that a pot of gold can be found at the end of a rainbow, but it’s protected by magical creatures called leprechauns.

History of the colours

  • The Greeks – Homer (Poet) believed that rainbows were one colour, purple. Xenohanes (Philosopher) added that the colour purple was in fact made up of three colours, namely yellow, green and red. Aristotle was in agreement with the three colour version.
  • Romans, Arabs, Persians and the Chinese all developed theories on rainbows.
  • During the renaissance it was decided that there were in actual fact four colours that created the rainbow; red, blue, green and yellow.
  • By the 17th century, Western thinkers believed that five colours made up these magnificent sightings.
  • 1637 saw Descartes state that rainbows are caused by the suns light being split into many colours because of the rain.
  • In 1666 Isaac Newton added two colours to the rainbow list, and the modern rainbow was realised, boasting the colours of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.
colours of the rainbow

The colours of the rainbow


  • The first colour in the rainbows arc, with the longest wave length.
  • Red captures the attention and tells us something important is happening
  • Red represents enthusiasm, passion, security and vitality


  • Is a warm vibrant colour that creates a feeling of comfort
  • Orange can be associated with positive feelings and emotions
  • Represents endurance, perseverance and strength


  • Surely the happiest colour in the rainbow.
  • Yellow is noticeable
  • Yellow represents awareness, cheerfulness, energy and orderliness


  • The middle colour in the rainbow, representing life
  • Of all the colours in the rainbow, more variations of the colour green are distinguished by the human eye
  • Green represents growth, health, nature and wealth


  • The colour of the sky and the sea, it conveys a message of peace, relaxation and stability
  • It represents knowledge, communication, peace and clam


  • Definitely the most disputed colour in the rainbow, a mix of blue and purple
  • Mystery is often linked to the colour indigo
  • It represents wisdom, awareness and intuition


  • A much-loved colour, one with the shortest wavelength
  • Associated with empathy and kindness, individuality and selflessness
  • Violet represents luxury, royalty, imagination, creativity and mystery

We celebrate rainbows and associate them with joy, happiness and magic. At iKids there are various fun-filled methods to bring rainbows into your home.

ikids products

Rainbow themed toys are a fantastic way for kids to learn about colours, shapes and the magic of rainbows:

Rainbow themed room décor is the ‘in’ décor right now, and iKids offer a wide selection of products to make your little one’s room a perfectly magical retreat.


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