Symbols and Symbolism of Summer

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The sun is up, the weather is warm, schools are closed and holiday destinations are beaming with life.

Being the warmest season of the year, summer comes between spring and autumn and is experienced between late June and late September in the Northern hemisphere, and between late December and late March in the Southern hemisphere. In the Northern hemisphere, it can also be termed as the season following the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year.

A season of optimism, hope, and adventure, summer is full of symbolism and is represented by several symbols. 

Symbolism of Summer

Symbolism of summer

Summer season is characterized by several symbolic meanings all centered on growth, maturity, warmth, and adventure.

  • Growth – This symbolic meaning derives from the nature of the summer season, where plants grow to maturity and the baby animals born in spring also burgeon.
  • Maturity – Summer can represent the prime of a person’s life, as a person continues to grow and strengthen their identities.
  • Warmth – It goes without saying that summer is associated with warmth. Summer is basically the warmest season of the year with the sun high up and days longer than nights.
  • Adventure – This is the season when schools are closed and holiday destinations are the busiest. There is a sense of adventure in the air.
  • Nourishment – This symbolic meaning derives from the fact that the summer sun serves to nourish plants as well as our lives.

Summer Symbolism in Literature and Music

The summer season is usually incorporated in literature to symbolize joy, adventure, fullness, self–acceptance, and the search for love. Examples of literary pieces that have incorporated summer include  Ann Brashares’s The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants”; Linda Hull’s Insects of Florida, and Denyque’s song Summer Love, just to mention but a few.

There are also many poems about summer, celebrating the beauty, warmth, and growth that comes with the season.

Summer poem

Symbols of Summer

Because of its purpose to bless nature, summertime is represented by numerous symbols, the majority of them revolving around plants and animals.

  • This Germanic symbol, which is the representative sign of summer, is drawn to resemble a bowl. This is done intentionally to illustrate the earth as a bowl ready to receive the readily available warmth and energy of the sun.
Summer symbol
  • Fire is also used as a representation of summer, an obvious choice because the scorching sun characteristic of summertime is often associated with burning fire. Alongside summer, fire also symbolizes creation, clarity, passion, and creativity.
  • Bears are a symbolistic representation of summer for two reasons; firstly, it is during summertime that bears come out of hibernation and roam around. Secondly, summertime is the mating season for bears, an actuality that associates both bears and summertime with fertility and rebirth.
  • Eagles are seen to symbolize summers for two reasons. First, the eagle’s sturdy beak and sharp claws have a characteristic sunshine- yellow that is reminiscent of the summer sun. Second, the native Americans associated the eagle with the thunderbird, believing it to be the bringer of summer rains.
  • Lions are seen to be a powerful representation of summer because of their tawny brown color that makes them a sort of a bronze icon. The male lion’s mane that is seen to resemble the sun is seen to be a representation of vitality and strength just like summer.
  • Salamanders have become a representation of summer based on their fiery orange color as well as the ancient Roman legend that claims that these creatures light fires and extinguish them at will. Additionally, they are a symbol of rebirth just like summer mainly because they are capable of regenerating their tail and toes.
  • The oak tree is a symbol of summer because of how strong and glorious it stands during summer. Additionally, it is a symbol of strength and authority.
  • Daisies are representative of summer because of the similarity of their characteristics and the characteristics of summertime. They come in bright happy colors and are symbols of love and youth. 
  • The sunflower is the most obvious representation of summertime. Flourishing mostly in summer, sunflowers have a characteristic color that resembles the sun. Moreover, sunflowers are physically drawn to the sun, turning to face East in the morning, and moving with the positioning of the sun till they face West in the evening. Sunflowers, just like summertime, are a representation of youth and growth. 

Folklore and Festivals of Summer

With the knowledge of what summer represents, it’s no surprise that there is an abundance of folklore surrounding summertime. Some of these stories and myths are as follows.

  • In ancient Greek, summer marked the beginning of a new year and the beginning of preparation for the highly celebrated Olympic games. It’s also during this time that the festival of Kronia, honoring Cronus, was held. During this celebration, Greek’s otherwise strict social code was disregarded and slaves were served by their masters.
  • Medieval Chinese associated summer with “yin” the feminine force of the earth. Festivals such as “the lantern festivals” are held in honor of yin.
  • Ancient Germans, Celtics, and Slavic people celebrated summer with bonfires, which they believed had the power to enhance the sun’s energy and assure a good harvest. The bonfires were also believed to banish evil spirits who were alleged to be strongest in the summertime.
  • Ancient Egyptians, Indians, Sumerians, and Akkadians all celebrated the sun as a god who brought forth not only light but also life and nourishment. In fact, in Egypt, Ra the sun god was the dominant one of all gods.

Wrapping Up

In any culture, summer is a time that is bursting with energy and life. As such, summer has come to represent optimism, positivy, hope for the future, and joy. Unlike winter, which signals the end, autumn, which harks the beginning of the end, and spring, which symbolizes the start of a new beginning, summer represents life and endless opportunities that await.