3rd July to 11th August - Dog Days of Summer

Written by Anne Newman - Wednesday 3rd July 2019

I often heard the saying

" we are in the 'dog days of summer' ”

Dog Days of Summer are the hot, sultry days of summer.

Someone mentioned it the other day and I began to wonder what it really meant. Some say it signifies hot sultry days “not fit for a dog;” others suggest it’s the weather in which dogs go mad.

The Dog Days of Summer describes the most oppressive period of summer, between 3rd July and 11th August each year.

They are connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad-dogs and bad luck. They are now taken to be the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

What does it have to do with dogs? A bit of research and I found out the Scéal, the story.

In the summer, Sirius the Dog Star rises and sets with the Sun.

On 23rd July, specifically, it is in conjunction with the Sun, and because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth, accounting for the long stretch of sultry weather. They referred to this time as diēs caniculārēs, or “dog days.”

That is how the term Dog Days of Summer came to mean the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun - 3rd July to 11th Aug.

It became proverbial among farmers that a dry growing season through the Dog Days was preferable to the trouble of a wet one:

Dog days bright and clear
Indicate a good year;
But when accompanied by rain,
We hope for better times in vain

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Anne is sharing a series of events throughout the year - you can find them listed by clicking to the link Other Notable Dates and Festivals.