Fun

The “Dog Days of Summer” Have A Delightfully Ethereal Origin

Though the phrase "dog days of summer" may conjure images of panting pups lying in the shade, the origin of the term is much more archaic and celestial. star1 When the ancient Greeks and Romans studied the sky they saw that Sirius, also called the dog star, rose with the sun between July 3rd and August 11th. Because Sirius is the brightest star and appears in a warm season, they believed that Sirius projected more heat at the earth. trishalee22 What the ancients didn't know was that Earth's axis tilts, which keeps the northern hemisphere closer to the sun in summer. This makes the Mediterranean climate hot and muggy during these days, but no less beautiful. If anything, the heat was a good excuse to slow down and take in the scenery. magicpupbutterfly So the position of the earth in relation to the sun creates longer, hotter days. Though it does make dogs (and humans!) lazier, the stars are not to blame. hando_shihtzu Though the term originated in the Mediterranean, it is used throughout the northern hemisphere to describe the hottest days of the summer. leonieash Throughout its lengthy history, the phrase "dog days" has cemented itself in the English lexicon. People use it casually in their every day speech, and ancient poets like Homer and Hesiod used the term in their works. [bp_related_article] Modern poet Howard Brown, in his poem "Dog Days" from The Gossamer Nature of Random Things, brilliantly captures the feeling of heat and humidity so accurately:
Now, the dog days of summer are upon us. The heat, a demonic presence, dancing out of a fevered dream; the languorous air so still, so passive, its abiding torpor, almost visible;
gingercollie As Earth tilts towards the sun we humans should take time to laze about and relax, just like our animal friends. These days can seem like a time outside our real lives, a new country of summer. And if you get up early enough, you and your dog just might see Sirius on your morning stroll. duh
Featured image via SaturatedColor Etsy

Dr. Katy Nelson

7 years ago

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