It’s The Dog Days of Summer — But What Does That Mean?
Sure, we have all heard the phrase “Dog Days of Summer.” But what does it mean? The official dog days begin on July 3rd and end on August 11th. Most of us use the saying to refer to the hottest days of the season. But as it turns out, the origin has nothing to do with the poor pups trying to find shade in the July and August heat. For the real answers, we need to look to the ancient skies.
A Celestial Explanation
To understand what the dog days are all about, we ask the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.
- Greeks and Romans — When the Greeks and Romans looked to the summer sky, they noticed Sirius, the Dog Star rose and set with the sun. They then theorized that because this star shone extra bright that it was adding the intense heat to the Earth in July and August. They also feared this time as it often brought catastrophic weather conditions such as severe heat, sudden storms, drought, and flooding. It was considered an unlucky time of year.
- Ancient Egyptians — However, in ancient Egypt, it was quite a different story. The Nile River flooded every year in the summer. This flooding brought fertile soil to otherwise drylands. Therefore it was essential to Egyptian survival. So, the people welcomed the event, called the Inundation. They noticed the waters began to swell when Sirius started rising before the sun. The time was almost holy to the Egyptians. They timed the beginning of their new year with the new moon that followed the star’s first appearance.
A Modern Interpretation
The phrase “dog days” was translated from Latin to English about 500 years ago. It has come to take on many meanings. Over time folks associated it with a period when dogs go crazy from the intense heat. It is a human tendency that when we may not know the origin of a phrase to attach new meaning. Also, as times and situations evolve, so do sayings. Although the ancient meaning may be lost on us, we still find ourselves talking about the “Dog Days of Summer.”
Surviving the Dog Days of Summer
Whew! This summer has been a scorcher. While we cannot turn down the heat, we can turn up the fun! Head out to O’Loughlin’s and sip a frosty beverage and snack on some delicious food. Rock out on our live music nights. Enjoy a cool breeze out on our patio. All this makes these dog days just that much better!