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An almanac (also spelled ''almanack'' and ''almanach'') is an
annual publicationAnnual publications, more often simply called annuals, are periodical publications appearing regularly once per year."Annuals", in ''Encyclopedia of library and information science'' (1968), vol. 1, pp. 434–447. Although exact definitions may vary, ...
listing a set of current, general or specific, information about one or multiple subjects. It includes information like
weather forecasts Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology forecasting, to predict the conditions of the Earth's atmosphere, atmosphere for a given location and time. People have attempted to predict the weather informally for millennia an ...
, farmers'
planting Sowing is the process of planting. An area or object that has had seeds planted in it will be described as a sowed area. Plants which are usually sown Among the major field crops, oats, wheat Wheat is a grass widely Agriculture, cultiva ...

planting
dates,
tide table Tide tables, sometimes called tide charts, are used for tidal prediction and show the daily times and levels of high and low tides, usually for a particular location. Tide heights at intermediate times (between high and low water) can be approxim ...
s, and other tabular
data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of values of qualitative property, qualitative or quantity, quantitative variable (research), variables about one or m ...
often arranged according to the
calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A calendar date, date is the designation of a single, specific day within such a system. A calendar is al ...
.
Celestial Celestial may refer to: Science * Objects or events seen in the sky and the following astronomical terms: ** Astronomical object, a naturally occurring physical entity, association, or structure that exists in the observable universe ** Celesti ...
figures and various statistics are found in almanacs, such as the
rising Rising may refer to: * Rising, a stage in baking - see Proofing (baking technique) *Elevation * Short for Uprising, a rebellion Film and TV * Rising (Stargate Atlantis), "Rising" (''Stargate Atlantis''), the series premiere of the science fiction t ...

rising
and
setting Setting may refer to: * A location (geography) where something is set * Set construction in theatrical scenery * Setting (narrative), the place and time in a work of narrative, especially fiction * Setting up to fail a manipulative technique to engi ...

setting
times of the
Sun The Sun is the star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma (physics), plasma held together by its own gravity. The List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many othe ...

Sun
and
Moon The Moon is Earth's only natural satellite. At about one-quarter the diameter of Earth (comparable to the width of Australia (continent), Australia), it is the largest natural satellite in the Solar System relative to the size of its planet ...

Moon
, dates of
eclipse An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when an astronomical object or spacecraft is temporarily obscured, by passing into the shadow of another body or by having another body pass between it and the viewer. This alignment of three ce ...
s, hours of high and low
tide (U.S.), low tide occurs roughly at moonrise and high tide with a high Moon, corresponding to the simple gravity model of two tidal bulges; at most places however, the Moon and tides have a phase shift. Tides are the rise and fall of sea level ...

tide
s, and
religious festival A religious festival is a time of special importance marked by adherents to that religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, r ...
s. The set of events noted in an almanac may be tailored for a specific group of readers, such as farmers, sailors, or astronomers.


Etymology

The etymology of the word is unclear. It has been suggested that the word ''almanac'' derives from a
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
word meaning ''calendar''. However, that word appears only once in antiquity, by
Eusebius Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, ''Eusébios tés Kaisareías''; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου), ...

Eusebius
who quotes Porphyry as to the Coptic Egyptian use of astrological charts (''almenichiaká''). The earliest almanacs were calendars that included agricultural, astronomical, or meteorological data. But it is highly unlikely
Roger Bacon Roger Bacon (; la, Rogerus or ', also '' Rogerus''; ), also known by the scholastic accolade ''Doctor Mirabilis'', was a medieval English philosopher and Franciscan The Franciscans are a group of related Mendicant orders, mendicant Chri ...
received the word from this etymology: "Notwithstanding the suggestive sound and use of this word (of which however the real form is very uncertain), the difficulties of connecting it historically either with the Spanish Arabic manākh, or with
Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
almanach without Arabic intermediation, seem insurmountable." The earliest documented use of the word in any language is in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
in 1267 by Roger Bacon, where it meant a set of tables detailing movements of heavenly bodies including the Moon. One etymology report says "The ultimate source of the word is obscure. Its first syllable, al-, and its general relevance to medieval science and technology, strongly suggest an
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...
origin, but no convincing candidate has been found".
Ernest Weekley Ernest Weekley (27 April 1865 – 7 May 1954) was a British philologist, best known as the author of a number of works on etymology. His ''An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English'' (1921; 850 pages) has been cited as a source by most authors o ...
similarly states of ''almanac'': "First seen in Roger Bacon. Apparently from Spanish Arabic, ''al-manakh'', but this is not an Arabic word....The word remains a puzzle."
Walter William Skeat Walter William Skeat, FBA (21 November 18356 October 1912) was the pre-eminent British philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, h ...
concludes that the construction of an Arabic origin is "not satisfactory". The ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive res ...
'' similarly says "the word has no etymon in Arabic" but indirect circumstantial evidence "points to a Spanish Arabic ''al-manākh''". The reason why the proposed Arabic word is speculatively spelled ''al-manākh'' is that the spelling occurred as "almanach", as well as almanac (and Roger Bacon used both spellings). The earliest use of the word was in the context of astronomy calendars. The prestige of the
Tables of Toledo Table may refer to: * Table (information) A table is an arrangement of data Data are units of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus define ...
and other medieval Arabic astronomy works at the time of the word's emergence in the West, together with the absence of the word in Arabic, suggest it may have been invented in the West and is pseudo-Arabic. At that time in the West, it would have been prestigious to attach an Arabic appellation to a set of astronomical tables. Also around that time, prompted by that motive, the Latin writer
Pseudo-Geber ''Geberis philosophi perspicacissimi, summa perfectionis magisterii'', 1542 Pseudo-Geber (or "Latin Pseudo-Geber") refers to a corpus of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the In ...
wrote under an Arabic pseudonym. (The later alchemical word ''
alkahest Alkahest is a theorized "universal solvent A solvent (from the Latin language, Latin ''wikt:solvo#Latin, solvō'', "loosen, untie, solve") is a substance that dissolves a solute, resulting in a solution. A solvent is usually a liquid but can al ...
'' is known to be pseudo-Arabic.)


History


Hemerologies and parapegmata

The earlier texts considered to be almanacs have been found in the
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental r ...
, dating back to the middle of the second millennium BC. They have been called generally hemerologies, from the Greek ''hēmerā'', meaning "day". Among them is the so-called Babylonian Almanac, which lists favorable and unfavorable days with advice on what to do on each of them. Successive variants and versions aimed at different readership have been found. Egyptian lists of good and bad moments, three times each day, have also been found. Many of these prognostics were connected with celestial events. The flooding of the Nile valley, a most important event in ancient Egypt, was expected to occur at the summer solstice, but as the civil calendar had exactly 365 days, over the centuries, the date was drifting in the calendar. The first
heliacal risingThe heliacal rising ( ) or star rise of a star occurs annually, or the similar phenomenon of a planet, when it first becomes visible above the eastern horizon at dawn just before sunrise (thus becoming "the Morning Star (disambiguation)#Astronomy, mo ...
of Sirius was used for its prediction and this practice, the observation of some star and its connecting to some event apparently spread. The Greek almanac, known as parapegma, has existed in the form of an inscribed stone on which the days of the month were indicated by movable pegs inserted into bored holes, hence the name. There were also written texts and according to
Diogenes Laërtius Diogenes Laërtius ( ; grc-gre, Διογένης Λαέρτιος, Dīogénēs Lāértios; ) was a biographer of the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the ...
, ''Parapegma'' was the title of a book by
Democritus Democritus (; el, Δημόκριτος, ''Dēmókritos'', meaning "chosen of the people"; – ) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient w ...

Democritus
.
Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, , ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...
, the
Alexandria ) , name = Alexandria ( or ; ar, الإسكندرية ; arz, اسكندرية ; cop, ⲣⲁⲕⲟϯ, Rakotī; el, Αλεξάνδρεια ''Alexándria'') is the third-largest city in Egypt after Cairo Cairo ...

Alexandria
n astronomer (2nd century) wrote a treatise, ''Phaseis''—"phases of fixed stars and collection of weather-changes" is the translation of its full title—the core of which is a ''parapegma'', a list of dates of seasonally regular weather changes, first appearances and last appearances of
star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma Plasma or plasm may refer to: Science * Plasma (physics), one of the four fundamental states of matter * Plasma (mineral) or heliotrope, a mineral aggregate * Quark ...

star
s or
constellation A constellation is an area on the celestial sphere in which a group of visible stars forms a perceived outline or pattern, typically representing an animal, mythological person or creature, or an inanimate object. The origins of the earliest ...

constellation
s at sunrise or sunset, and solar events such as
solstice A solstice is an event that occurs when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere In astronomy and navigation, the celestial sphere is an abstraction, abstr ...

solstice
s, all organized according to the solar year. With the astronomical computations were expected weather phenomena, composed as a digest of observations made by various authorities of the past. ''Parapegmata'' had been composed for centuries. Ptolemy believed that astronomical phenomena caused the changes in seasonal weather; his explanation of why there was not an exact correlation of these events was that the physical influences of other heavenly bodies also came into play. Hence for him, weather prediction was a special division of
astrology Astrology is a pseudoscience that claims to divination, divine information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of Celestial objects in astrology, celestial objects. Astrology has bee ...
.


Ephemerides In astronomy and celestial navigation, an ephemeris (plural: ephemerides) gives the trajectory of naturally occurring astronomical objects as well as artificial satellites in the sky, i.e., the position (and possibly velocity) over time. T ...
, zijs and tables

The origins of the almanac can be connected to ancient
Babylonian astronomy Babylonian astronomy was the study or recording of celestial objects during the early history of Mesopotamia. Babylonian astronomy seemed to have focused on a select group of stars and constellations known as Ziqpu stars. These constellations may ...
, when tables of planetary periods were produced in order to predict lunar and planetary phenomena. Similar treatises called
Zij A zij ( fa, زيج, zīj) is an astronomy in medieval Islam, Islamic astronomical book that tabulates ephemeris, parameters used for astronomy, astronomical calculations of the apparent place, positions of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets. Etymo ...
were later composed in medieval
Islamic astronomy Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' is pronounced , or (when the stress is on the first syllable) ( ...
. The modern almanac differs from Babylonian, Ptolemaic and Zij tables in the sense that "the entries found in the almanacs give directly the positions of the celestial bodies and need no further computation", in contrast to the more common "auxiliary astronomical tables" based on Ptolemy's ''Almagest''. The earliest known almanac in this modern sense is the ''Almanac of Azarqueil'' written in 1088 by Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm al-Zarqālī (Latinized as Arzachel) in Toledo, Spain, Toledo, al-Andalus. The work provided the true daily positions of the sun, moon and planets for four years from 1088 to 1092, as well as many other related tables. A
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
translation and adaptation of the work appeared as the ''
Tables of Toledo Table may refer to: * Table (information) A table is an arrangement of data Data are units of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus define ...
'' in the 12th century and the ''Alfonsine tables'' in the 13th century. Image:Hindu calendar 1871-72.jpg, A page from the Almanac for the Hindu calendar, Hindu year 1871-72.


Medieval examples

After almanacs were devised, people still saw little difference between predicting the movements of the stars and tides, and predicting the future in the divination sense. Early almanacs therefore contained general horoscopes, as well as the more concrete information. In 1150 Solomon Jarchus created such an almanac considered to be among the first modern almanacs. Copies of 12th century almanacs are found in the British Museum, and in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In 1300, Petrus de Dacia (mathematician), Petrus de Dacia created an almanac (Savilian Library, Oxford). This was the same year Roger Bacon, OFM, produced his as well. In 1327 Walter de Elvendene created an almanac and later on John Somers, 1st Baron Somers, John Somers of Oxford, in 1380. In 1386 Nicholas de Lynne, Oxford produced an almanac. In 1457 the first printed almanac was published at Mainz, by Gutenberg (eight years before the famous Bible). Regio-Montanus produced an almanac in 1472 (Nuremberg, 1472), which was continued in print for several centuries in many editions. In 1497 the ''Sheapheard’s Kalendar'', translated from French (Richard Pynson) became the first English printed almanac.


Early modern era


England

By the second half of the 16th century, yearly almanacs were being produced in England by men such as Anthony Askham, Thomas Buckminster, John Dade and Gabriel Frende. In the 17th century, English almanacs were bestsellers, second only to the Bible; by the middle of the century, 400,000 almanacs were being produced annually (a complete listing can be found in th
English Short Title Catalogue
. Until its deregulation in 1775, the Stationers' Company maintained a lucrative monopoly over almanac publication in England. Richard Allestree (who is not the same as this Richard Allestree) wrote one of the more popular English almanacs, producing yearly volumes from 1617 to 1643, but his is by no means the earliest or the longest-running almanac. Works that satirized this type of publication appeared in the late 1500s. During the next century, a writer using the pseudonym of "Poor Richard, Knight of the Burnt Island" began to publish a series of such parodies that were entitled ''Poor Robin, Poor Robin's Almanack''. The 1664 issue of the series stated: "This month we may expect to hear of the Death of some Man, Woman, or Child, either in Kent or Christendom."


British America and United States

The first almanac printed in the Thirteen Colonies of British America was William Pierce's 1639 ''An Almanac Calculated for New England''. The almanac was the first in a series of such publications that Stephen Daye, or Day, printed each year until 1649 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Cambridge/Boston, Massachusetts, Boston area in Massachusetts soon became the first center in the colonies for the annual publication of almanacs, to be followed by Philadelphia during the first half of the eighteenth century. Nathaniel Ames of Dedham, Massachusetts, issued his popular ''Astronomical Diary and Almanack'' in 1725 and annually after c.1732. James Franklin (printer), James Franklin published ''The Rhode Island Almanack'' by "Poor Robin" for each year from 1728 to 1735. James' brother, Benjamin Franklin, published his annual ''Poor Richard's Almanack'' in Philadelphia from 1732 to 1758. Samuel Stearns of Paxton, Massachusetts, issued the ''North-American Almanack'', published annually from 1771 to 1784, as well as the first American nautical almanac, ''The Navigator's Kalendar, or Nautical Almanack, for 1783''. Andrew Ellicott of Ellicott City, Maryland#Milling, Ellicott's Upper Mills, Maryland, authored a series of almanacs, ''The United States Almanack'', the earliest known copy of which bears the date of 1782. Benjamin Banneker, a free African Americans, African American living near Ellicott's Mills, composed a series of almanacs for the years of 1792 to 1797.


Contemporary use

Currently published almanacs such as ''Whitaker's Almanack'' have expanded their scope and contents beyond that of their historical counterparts. Modern almanacs include a comprehensive presentation of statistical and descriptive data covering the entire world. Contents also include discussions of topical developments and a summary of recent historical events. Other currently published almanacs (ca. 2006) include ''TIME Almanac with Information Please'', ''World Almanac, World Almanac and Book of Facts'', ''Farmers' Almanac, The Farmer's Almanac'' and ''Old Farmer's Almanac, The Old Farmer's Almanac'' and The Almanac for Farmers & City Folk. The ''Inverness Almanac'', an almanac/literary journal, was published in West Marin, California, from 2015 to 2016. In 2007, Harrowsmith Country Life Magazine launched a Canadian Almanac, written in Canada, with all-Canadian content. The nonprofit agrarian organization the Greenhorns currently publishes ''The New Farmer's Almanac'' as a resource for young farmers. Major topics covered by almanacs (reflected by their tables of contents) include: geography, government, demographics, agriculture, economics and business, health and medicine, religion, mass media, transportation, science and technology, sport, and awards/prizes. Other examples include ''The Almanac of American Politics'' published by Columbia Books & Information Services, ''The Almanac of American Literature'', ''The Almanac of British Politics'' and the Wapsipinicon Almanac. The GPS almanac, as part of the data transmitted by each GPS satellite, contains coarse orbit and status information for all satellites in the constellation, an ionospheric model, and information to relate GPS derived time to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Hence the GPS almanac provides a similar goal as the ancient Babylonian almanac, to find celestial bodies.


See also

* Annual publication * Calendaring software * Encyclopedia * List of almanacs * Gazetteer * Kalnirnay * Panchangam * Panjika * Tonalamatl * Tung Shing * Yearbook


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* *


Further reading

* T.J. Tomlin, ''A Divinity for All Persuasions: Almanacs and Early American Religious Life.'' Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2014.


External links


American Almanacs collection
Ball State University Digital Media Repository, includes representative samples for almanacs published in the United States primarily during the 18th century.

United States National Library of Medicine.
The World almanac and encyclopedia (1917) - Typical 20th century almanac, in times before Internet, TV, and widely usage of radio, however covering the world from American point of view

Sunpreview The Modern Almanac Project

The Old Farmer's Almanac

The Farmers' Almanac
* {{Authority control Almanacs, Reference works