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

Recently, in my discussion of why schools have summer break I wrote, “There was no extra work to be found in the dog days of summer.” As soon as I wrote that, I wondered, “why do we call them the ‘dog days’ of summer?”

Here’s the answer…

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

According to National Geographic, the term “dog days of summer” has nothing to do with dogs lying around in the heat. The phrase stems from ancient Greek astrology.

As Wonderopolis confirms, the ancient Romans called the hottest, most humiddays of summer “diēs caniculārēs” or “dog days.” The star Sirius is associated with the hottest days of summer, and Sirius is known as the “Dog Star” because it was the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky.

Because it is the brightest star, Romans thought it radiated an extra amount of heat toward Earth, causing hotter temperatures.

Romans considered from about July 24 to around August 24 to be the dog days of summer. Today, The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the traditional timing of the dog days of summer as being July 3 until August 11.

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