What Is the Farmers Almanac?

Americana, Traditions
on April 24, 2012

The book known casually as the "Farmer’s Almanac" actually is titled “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.” Its familiar front cover features elaborate engravings and depictions of Benjamin Franklin and Robert B. Thomas (the author), as well as the current edition’s year in bold lettering at the center. This cover page design made its debut in 1851. The almanac itself dates back to 1792 and the presidency of George Washington.

The beginnings. An almanac is simply a reference book, recording and predicting astronomical events. These may include sunrise and sunset times, tidal occurrences and general weather information. The “Farmer’s Almanac” was penned by Robert B. Thomas from 1792 until his death in 1846. Thomas devised a weather forecasting formula that proved to be about 80 percent accurate. With Thomas’ weather predictions, farmers could plan their planting and harvests around the weather. By the second year of the almanac’s publication, its sales had tripled.

Inside the almanac. “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” features not only astronomical data but calendar information such “annual and seasonal events, including civil and religious holidays; daily astronomical events; astrological ‘best’ days and cycles; agricultural/gardening and gestation days, and more,” states Almanac.com. It also contains tips and advice about topics such as cooking, cleaning, natural remedies, home improvement, pets, health, parenting and back-to-basics living.

Using the almanac. The “Farmer’s Almanac” is user-friendly. You can reference it to check the potential weather forecast for your wedding scheduled seven months from now or find out what date is best for planting your tomatoes in the garden. The almanac’s information no longer is bound only in book format. It can be accessed online at Almanac.com. At the website, visitors can search for recipes, find cooking conversions, check for the best fishing days and explore the "Made in the USA" blog.

Beyond the book. “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” is more than just hardback, paperback and digital almanacs. Other items offered include gardening calendars, daily calendars and even a “Farmer’s Almanac” jigsaw puzzle. You can follow the “Farmer’s Almanac” on Twitter and Facebook as well.

The “Farmer’s Almanac" is North America’s oldest continuously published periodical. The yearly book is released each September.