Have you ever been told to “make hay while the sun shines”? What does that even mean? You might not even be a farmer! Why would you want to make hay? And what does sunshine have to do with it?
“Make hay while the sun shines” is an old saying that’s considered a proverb. A proverb is an old, usually short saying that communicates good advice or something true.
If you make hay while the sun shines, it means that you take advantage of the chance to do something while conditions are good. In other words, you make good use of your time or make the most of an opportunity while you have the chance.
The saying has been around for hundreds of years. It first appeared in 1546 in John Heywood’s A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue. Experts believe the phrase came from medieval English farmers.
Hundreds of years ago, it would take many days for farmers to cut, dry and gather hay. Today, it’s much easier to make hay because of our modern machinery and weather forecasting.
Since hay can be ruined easily if it gets too wet, medieval farmers had to take advantage of hot, dry, sunny weather to cut and gather hay. Thus, “make hay while the sun shines” was just a matter of common sense to them.
They eventually began to use the phrase generally to mean to take advantage of circumstances before the chance slips away.
This proverb, like so many others, offers good advice. Opportunities may only come along every so often.
It’s good to take stock of a situation and realize when an opportunity presents itself. If you can act on it before it slips away, you’ll have made hay while the sun shone!
A similar idea can be communicated by the Latin phrase carpe diem, which is usually translated as “seize the day.” Those who use this phrase stress that the future is uncertain.
Since one never knows what the future may hold, take advantage of those opportunities that present themselves today. Make every second count!