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For the 2001 film, see Dog Days
The phrase Dog Days or "the dog days of summer", Latin: Caniculae, Caniculares dies, refers to the hottest, most sultry days of summer. In the northern hemispheremarker they usually fall between early July and early September. In the Southern hemispheremarker they are usually between January and early March. 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 name

The term "Dog Days" was used by the Greeks (see, e.g., Aristotle's Physics, 199a2), as well as the ancient Romans (who called these days caniculares dies (days of the dogs)) after Sirius (the "Dog Star", in Latin Canicula), the brightest star in the heavens besides the Sun. The dog days of summer are also called canicular days.

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 Romans 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.

Dog Days were 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" according to Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, 1813.

The dates

In Ancient Rome, the Dog Days extended from July 24 through August 24 (or, alternatively July 23-August 23). In many European cultures (German, French, Italian) this period is still said to be the time of the Dog Days.

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 heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. These are the days of the year when rainfall is at its lowest levels.

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

Other locations

By contrast, "Dog Days" as defined herein do not occur at all in the southern hemispheremarker, for there even when the Dog Star Sirius is least favorably placed for viewing (around July 1), it still will be briefly visible from the southern hemispheremarker both in the east before dawn and again in the west after dusk. Throughout most of Antarcticamarker Sirius is circumpolar; that is to say, constantly above the horizon.

In the northern hemisphere, the farther north one goes, the longer Sirius remains invisible each year, and beyond a latitude of approximately 74°N (to the north of any part of mainland Europe or North America) the star never appears above the horizon at all.

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

In Tamil Nadu and some parts of India it is referred as "Kathiri veyyil"(sunlight that acts like scissors) or " Agni Nakshathram" (star of fire). It lasts for 28 days in April or May.

Other references

For the ancient Egyptiansmarker, 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."

The phrase is mentioned in the short story "The Bar Sinister" by Richard Harding Davis. The main character, who is a street dog, explains "but when the hot days come, I think they might remember that those are the dog days, and leave a little water outside in a trough, like they do for the horses."

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.

Icelanders refer to the Danish adventurer Jørgen Jürgensen as Jörundur hundadagakonungur ("Jørgen the dog-days King" in Icelandic) since he proclaimed himself lord protector for some months of 1809.

And there is this mention of "dogdays" in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol:
Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.

See also

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