Dog Days of Summer: What are They? Where did they Come From?

Every year, from July 3rd to August 11th, this period is called 'The Dog Days' of summer. These are usually the hottest and most unbearable days of the season. We often hear about 'The Dog Days," but do you know where the phrase came from?

It Was In the Stars

You might be surprised that it references Sirius, the Dog Star. In ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome, it was believed that the dawn rising of Sirius in mid-to-late summer contributed to the season's extreme weather. During summer, Sirius rises and sets with the sun. On July 23rd, it is in conjunction with the sun. These ancient civilizations thought that the combined 'heat' of the super-bright Sirius and our sun was the cause of the summer's sweltering temperatures. The name "Sirius" stems from the Ancient Greek word seírios, which means "scorching."
In ancient Egypt, the star was known as the "Nile Star," or "Star of Isis," because Egyptians noticed four thousand years ago that around the summer solstice, Sirius' appearance was often when the Nile River would flood.
Romans referred to this period as diēs caniculārēs, or "dog days," which became the term Dog Days of Summer to represent the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the sun every year.
During these ancient civilizations' time, the Dog Days of Summer would have begun near the end of July. It starts on July 3rd in modern times because Earth's rotation wobbles, meaning Sirius does not appear in the sky at the same time of the year as it did so long ago.

Surviving The Dog Days of Summer

When the Dog Days are in full swing, the heat can take a lot out of you when you live in the South! So here are a few tips and refreshers to survive!
  1. Avoid dark clothing. It absorbs the heat! Wear light-colored, lightweight, breathable clothing.
  2. Always keep an ice-cold beverage close by. We're fond of sweet tea, of course, but we leave it up to you to decide what works best. No matter what your beverage of choice is, make sure you drink plenty of fluids!
  3. Whether you prefer to go old-school with an umbrella or choose a hat, carry some shade with you to ward off the intense sun.
  4. The best parking space isn't going to be the closest; it's the one with shade. Try to walk in places that provide as much shade as possible, and if you have to stop, don't stop in the full sun.
  5. Consider a sunshade for your car or draping a hand towel over the steering wheel. Otherwise, you'll find out how unbearably hot they can be to touch after baking for hours in full sun.
  6. If you don't have a pool in your backyard, take plenty of trips to your local public one, lakes, rivers, or springs. It's the most vital thing you can do on too-hot-days. (Don't forget your sunscreen!)
During these Dog Days of Summer, stay in the shade, stay hydrated, and keep as cool as possible.