By Jinny Underwood
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – When I turned over the calendar page from June to July, I noticed a phrase printed on the square for July 3. It was ‘Dog Days begins.’ Now when I was a youngster, I thought it just meant that it was the hottest part of summer when the dogs laid around in the shade all day.
My mother-in-law, Grace, explained it to me. It begins July 3 and ends August 11. She said if the weather was rainy at the start, it would rain a lot till Dog Days were over. Likewise, if it started hot and dry, it would stay that way. I have found this saying to be true. She also said if you had a cut or sore place, it would heal very slowly during Dog Days. Some people think snakes won’t bite then, but I don’t want to test that. Some people think dogs are more likely to get rabies during this hot spell as well.
Ancient people attributed many things they didn’t understand to the stars in the night sky. They noticed the times of the year when different stars were seen rising above the horizon, especially at sunrise. Sirius, which is the brightest star, rises with the sun during Dog Days. It is in the constellation called Canis Major or Greater Dog. The Greek name Sirius means “scorching”. They thought the star was helping the sun to increase it’s heat, bringing drought and diseases like plague.
In Finland, in 2002 to 2005, there was a study done to test folklore that the rate of infections was greater during Dog Days. In Finland, Dog Days is known as “Rotten Month.” According to an article in the National Library of Medicine, the study found that the myth was true and that wounds from surgeries performed during Dog Days were two times more likely to become infected or have problems healing.
The ancient Egyptians depended on the Nile River to flood every year bringing rich soil for their crops. They noticed a coincidence: the river began to rise on the days when Sirius (they called the star Sopdet) began to rise just before the sun. This was so important to them that they began their New Year at this time with the first new moon that followed the first appearance of Sirius at dawn. So they welcomed the coming of Sirius and Dog Days, while the Europeans dreaded it.
So I greeted the Dog Days hoping for plenty of rain for my garden. So far I have had one ten minute shower. Of course I know the farmers putting up hay hope for dryer weather. May God bless us all with what He knows we need.
Sources used My mother-in-law, Grace Underwood, The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume D and The Old Farmers Almanac, 2020. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 07/15/2020-6AM)