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Where did the “dog days of summer” come from anyway?

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Posted at 3:02 PM, Jul 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-30 15:02:22-04

“The dog days of summer.”

It’s a phrase we often hear this time of the year, when the summer days are the hottest, and at times, it’s simply unbearable to be outdoors.  In fact, July and August are typically the hottest months of the year, the same time we often hear the phrase used the most.  But originally the “dog days” phrase had nothing to do with it the heat.

If you do a quick search of the “dog days” online, you’ll find several articles about where the phrase originated. However, I came across a great article from National Geographic that discusses it.

Why Do We Call Them the ‘Dog Days’ of Summer?

In the article, author Becky Little lets readers know that the phrase goes back to the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  In fact, “the dogs days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens,” writes Little.  “To the Greeks and Romans, the ‘dog days’ occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July.  They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year, a period that could bring fever, or even catastrophe.”

However, Little goes on to say that the ancient Greeks got it wrong.  The dog days, when Sirius rises, are actually not the hottest days of the year.

Why you ask?

Well, Little writes that the hottest times of the year can vary from year to year and in different hemispheres.

And what’s even more interesting is that scientists say the Earth’s night sky is shifting separate of the calendar.  That means that if this trend continues, the phrase “the dog days of summer” could one day become “the dog days of winter.”

Interesting, right?

Make sure you check out Little’s article.  It’s a great read.

Source: National Geographic