August is here and despite the relatively mild nature of the weather right now so are the “Dog Days of Summer”. My grandmother told me that the name, “Dog Days of Summer”, was given to this time of year because, “It is so hot that even dogs won’t do anything but whine.” Even though that was very descriptive of what this time of year is like, especially in the South, it is incorrect. The “Dog Days of Summer are more of a celestial event than a weather event.
Greek and Roman astrology connected this period of the year with “heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.”1 The “Dog Days of Summer” begin when the star, Sirius, is first seen just before sunrise.
The English name is a literal, word-for-word, or root-for-root translation of the Latin dies caniculares (lit. “the puppy days”) as is Dies caniculares from the Greek kynádes hēmérai (κυνάδες ἡμέραι, “dog days”). The Greeks knew the star α Canis Majoris by several names, including Sirius (Σείριος, Seírios, “Scorcher”), Sothis (Σῶθις, Sôthis, a transcription of Egyptian Spdt), and the Dog Star (Κῠ́ων, Kúōn).2
The “Dog Days of Summer” are referred to throughout Western Literature: Homer’s Iliad, Aristole’s Physics, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Richard Adams’s Watership Down, and several children’s stories including Cabo and Coral Dog Days of Summer by Dr. Udo Wahn along with many others.
The “Dog Days of Summer” are not referred to in the Bible. There are verses in the Bible that speak about God fixing the season such as Genesis 8:22 and Psalm 74:17.
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22 (ESV)
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter. Psalm 74:17 (ESV)
The most recognized passage from the Bible that refers to seasons is Ecclesiastes 3 where Solomon begins his thesis with, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. (ESV) The passage continues with a sort of warning about the dynamic nature of all creation; nothing stays the same because change is part of the design of creation. This passage was used by Pete Seeger when he wrote the 1950s song Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season). It became an international hit in 1965 when the Byrds produced their rendition. This song is word-for-word from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 with the title repeated throughout the song and in the last two lines. It is also the song with the oldest lyrics and only monarchal author (King Solomn) to make it to #1 on the U. S. Music Charts.3
The overarching sense of this passage and with Ecclesiastes is that we should be content with what God has given us and that we should make use of the same. It is my prayer that all of us can do this as we walk through the “Dog Days of Summer” into the harvest that is coming; the harvest that feeds our bellies and the harvest that populates the Kingdom of Heaven.
2 “Dog Star, n.”, Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
3 “Fun Facts”. Music Madness. Retrieved 2009-12-05.