Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dog Days of Summer


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By Diane Forrest

I went outside the other day, and nearly melted away.  I checked the temperature, and it was 102 degrees!  My dad said that we were in the dog days of summer.  I have heard this expression many times, but never really knew what it meant.  I just assumed that it meant it was just dog gone hot outside!
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Actually it is a time period from July 3rd to August 11.  It is observed in the Mediterranean as the hottest part of the summer.  The name actually comes from the stars, specifically the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun.    In the summer Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.
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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 "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies." according to Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, 1813.
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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. 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".
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All I know is that the dog days of summer is a very hot time, and I just want to stay inside in my cool air conditioned house and sip on ice cold drinks or eat some ice cream.  During these Dog Days, stay inside if at all possible, and if you have to be outdoors, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, and have frequent rest periods.

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