Captain's Cabin

Pirate Lord of the Platinum Coast
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Wednesday - Dog Days of Summer

Scourage of the Seven Seas


How come dogs have a season? Have you ever wonder this? We do not have Cat Days of Winter, but we days in summer for Dogs. So why is this? I tell you...

The phrase Dog Days or "the dog days of summer", refers to the hottest, most sultry days of summer. They are a phenomenon of the northern hemisphere that usually falls between early July and early September but the actual dates vary greatly from region to region, depending on latitude and climate. Dog Days can also define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress.

The term "Dog Days" was used by the Greeks, as well as the ancient Romans (who called these days caniculares dies (days of the dogs)) after Sirius (the "Dog Star"), the brightest star in the heavens besides the Sun.

Popularly believed to be an evil time "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies."

The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius, the Dog Star, rose just before or at the same time as sunrise (heliacal rising), which is no longer true owing to precession of the equinoxes.

The ancients sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.

The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the ancient helical (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.

According to The Book of Common Prayer (1552), the "Dog Daies" begin on July 6 and end on August 17.

The period from July 23 to August 23 is called "Rötmånad" in Sweden and "Mätäkuu" in Finland, both literally meaning "rotting-month", due to the risk of foodstuff spoiling due to the high temperature.

For the ancient Egyptians, Sirius appeared just before the season of the Nile's flooding, so they used the star as a "watchdog" for that event. Since its rising also coincided with a time of extreme heat, the connection with hot, sultry weather was made for all time: "Dog Days bright and clear / indicate a happy year. / But when accompanied by rain, / for better times our hopes are vain."

In recent years, the phrase "Dog Days" or "Dog Days of Summer" have also found new meanings. The term has frequently been used in reference to the American stock market(s). Typically, summer is a very slow time for the stock market, and additionally, poorly performing stocks with little future potential are frequently known as "dogs."

A casual survey will usually find that many people believe the phrase is in reference to the conspicuous laziness of domesticated dogs (who are in danger of overheating with too much exercise) during the hottest days of the summer. When speaking of "Dog Days" there seems to be a connotation of lying or "dogging" around, or being "dog tired" on these hot and humid days. Although these meanings have nothing to do with the original source of the phrase, they may have been attached to the phrase in recent years due to common usage or misunderstanding of the origin of the phrase.

The feast day of Saint Roch, the patron saint of dogs, is August 16.

2 comments:

Cheysuli and gemini said...

Oddly we just read about that in a book recently! How funny.

-d ma said...

another very informative post.

p.s. is luke hughes ready for the big leagues? this casilla injury has disaster written all over it...