Sunset Symbolism (6 Meanings in Life and Literature)

Just like the sunrise symbolizes the start of the day and a new beginning, sunset symbolism indicates the completion of a cycle and an end to the proceedings. It’s commonly present together with the sunrise symbolism because they form an entity, a cycle. They happen each day, and there’s no changing that, which is typical of the force of Nature that they both are.

sunset symbolismSunsets are mysterious. There’s a sense of calmness and the calming and warm colors have a sense of mystery about them. It’s compelling to observe the beauty of a sunset and take in the last breaths of a day, which means that this event can be inspiring for many people who observe it.

In many ways, sunsets and sunrises represent our lives – how they begin with a sunrise, and how they end with a sunset, where the sunrise represents birth and rebirth, while the end of the day represents the end of a journey.

> This article is from our series on weather symbolism

Sunset Symbolism and Meanings

1. Completion

Sunset happens at the end of the day, so it’s a conclusion to what’s happened during the day. It’s the end of the cycle that repeats itself every day, where the sunrise symbolizes the beginning of the day, while the sunset is its completion.

There’s a sense of completeness when the sunset comes in. After the sun has set, the day turns into night and light into darkness. It influences our mood and makes us feel like we’ve come to the end of an era. This cyclical nature of the earth’s daily cycle can be symbolic of our lives, too.

2. Cycle

No day is complete without a sunset. It’s a repeating cycle that will continue as long as Earth stands as it is. When the cycle starts, it’s represented by a sunrise; when it ends, it’s symbolic of a sunset.

Our lives are also cyclical. They begin with our birth and our childhood, represented by the sunrise. And they end with a sunset, which marks the end of this cycle. That’s why the sun’s motions are often used together to convey certain qualities that involve something that’s cyclical – like our lives.

3. Mystery

Sunsets are filled with warm colors that inspire a feeling of completeness but also mystery. After the sun has set, we don’t know what will happen. The night is full of unsure events which is only strengthened by the lack of light that happens during the night.

In some ways, a sunset can be a bridge between our unconscious and conscious mind. When there is light, it represents our consciousness. The night represents our unconsciousness. 

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: 

“Every sunset brings the promise of a new day”. This sense of anticipation of what comes after the sunset brings a sense of mystery to it. 

4. Calmness

There’s a sense of calmness during a sunset. This is inspired by the many colors that occur at this time of day. Sunsets can provide an excellent background for meditation and for relaxation, because of the calm atmosphere.

Sunsets are special. Witnessing them can be relaxing, and even healing in many ways. We witness the day’s end, allowing us to summarize how the day has gone for us. It allows us to look back on what we’ve achieved during the day, and end it on a positive note.

When you think about a sunset, you perhaps think about those calming moments by the sea, where the air is clear and calm, with the waves gently crashing against the coast. This is a common depiction of the end of the day and also an image that makes so many people love this sort of event.

5. Beauty

Sunsets are a mixture of warm colors – you can see the whole palette from orange, red, blue, to yellow and even black. This has inspired many artists and literature writers to include the symbolism of the sun setting in their works (more on that later).

Many spiritual leaders and spirituality practitioners will tell you about the importance of a sunset. It’s a significant moment that’s not only beautiful to observe, but it has strong implications that you can learn from.

Sunsets even inspired great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, who is known for saying the following quote

“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.”

> Read Also: Metaphors for Beauty

6. Light vs Dark

Sunset is a boundary between the realm of light versus the dark. As the sun sets, dark forces come into play, which is scary and mysterious. It is thus the last force of the light, which brings positivity. In some ways, it’s nature’s way of reminding us of the battle between good and evil.

Sunset Symbolism in Literature and Art

Sunset is seen as a mixture of good and evil in literature. One of the most famous quotes about this phenomenon is from Rabindranath Tagore, who used sunset symbolism in one of his works, Stray Birds, to help you find good in everything evil:

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storms, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

In literature, sunset symbolism is used to portray something magical and mysterious. That’s why this symbolism is commonly present in fictional works of art. One such instance can be found in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, where she describes it as the following:

“Twilight fell: The sky turned to a light, dusky purple littered with tiny silver stars.”

In some works of literature, the setting of the sun is also symbolic of beauty and love. Its mystic nature and the colors that are involved create a feeling of beauty that is often connected to love. Many romantic scenes involve the sunset in order to create these feelings within the reader. 

In a young adult novel by Anna Godbersen, the sunset is used to inspire feelings of love and beauty:

“The first stab of love is like a sunset, a blaze of color — oranges, pearly pinks, vibrant purples…”

Read Also: Summer Symbolism in Literature

The Sunset in Dreams – What does it Mean?

Here are some possible meanings of your dreams.

  • Dreaming about a sunset might mean that you’re ending a chapter in your life and that you’re looking forward to new challenges that come after it.
  • Alternatively, it can mean that you’re eager about ending something unpleasant in your life, and you’re unsure about the changes it brings.
  • It can also mean that you’re currently going through a good period in your life and that this period is bound to end soon.

In most cases, sunset dreams depict something unpleasant, and in most scenarios, it represents something that is going to end soon.

Conclusion

Sunsets are beautiful and mysterious. They’re inspirational and many people enjoy them for their mystic nature. They represent an end to something, as they’re the opposite of sunrises which represent birth and a new beginning.

These two symbolisms are commonly used in unison, as they’re used to portray something that’s cyclical in nature. They tell you that everything has a beginning and everything must come to an end at some point, whether you like it or not. Not all endings are as pleasant as the sunset, though.

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