The Origin of “Dog Days”

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Aaahhh….. the “dog days of summer.”  So hot are the days, so lazy are we.  But where did that phrase come from?

It’s actually VERY old.  The first recorded use of the phrase was back in 1538, but even before that, ancient Romans made references to the “dog star,” or Sirius, that rose with the sun in July and August.  The Romans believed the two stars – Sirius and the sun – were conspiring to create super hot temperatures.

Ancient Egyptians also used the dog star as an indicator, but not of impending heat.  Egyptian priests noticed that Sirius would rise with the sun just before the Nile River flooded each year.  They used it as a precaution, knowing that “Nile Days” were at hand.

Sirius is the brightest star in the nighttime sky.  It is part of the Canis Major constellation, which translated means “the greater dog” in Latin.

Didn’t think you’d get an astrology lesson, didja?

Merriam Webster:
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