The Real Meaning Behind the ‘Dog Days of Summer’
The last several days have just been so oppressive. Sticky, hot, and muggy weather is what we've been dealing with and there's a very good chance that you've heard someone say something along the lines of, "Man, these sure are the dog days of summer." Maybe you've even said so yourself, but do you actually know what the phrase "dog days of summer" means?
According to The Farmers' Almanac, the "dog days" of summer are the sweltering days that fall between July 3 and August 11 each year. While some people think the phrase is tossed around during this time frame because "it signifies hot sultry days “not fit for a dog” or that the weather is so hot that "dogs go mad," the phrase has absolutely nothing to do with dogs being affected by the weather.
According to National Geographic, the phrase is actually about the Sun and one particular star. During the "dog days," the Sun sits in the same area of the sky as Sirius which is the brightest star visible from any part of Earth. Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Major, also known as the Greater Dog.
When ancient Greeks and Romans referenced the "dog days," they were talking about the 20 days before and the 20 days after the alignment of Sirius with the Sun. To ancient Greeks and Romans, these days signified the hottest time of the year when bad things had a tendency to happen.
Jay B. Holberg, a senior research scientist at the University of Arizona Lunar & Planetary Laboratory told National Geographic, “If you go back even as far as Homer, The Iliad, it’s referring to Sirius as Orion’s dog rising, and it describes the star as being associated with war and disaster.”