An almanac is a yearly publication that includes all sorts of information. The next time you're at the library, grab an almanac and browse through it. If you can't find one, you can always browse an almanac online.
You'll be amazed to find tons of interesting information, such as weather predictions, the best dates for planting crops, when the sun will rise and set, the dates of eclipses and the times of tides. Almanacs even include such miscellaneous information as world records, population statistics, recipes, holiday trivia and predictions about trends in fashion, food, home decoration, technology and lifestyle for the upcoming year.
The oldest almanac in North America — The Old Farmer's Almanac — has been published annually since 1792. In the early years of publication, the almanac cost approximately four cents!
Farmers, in particular, learned quickly to appreciate The Old Farmer's Almanac's weather forecast for the upcoming year. In order to determine the weather predictions for the next year, editor Robert B. Thomas first studied solar activity, astronomy and weather patterns.
He then used this information to develop a secret forecasting system. Current editors still use his system today!
Some people say the information is so secret that it is kept in a special box at the almanac's offices in Dublin, New Hampshire.
So, just how accurate are the weather predictions in The Old Farmer's Almanac? Well, there is some debate about that.
Although the editors admit that nobody can predict the weather with total accuracy, they claim an accuracy rate of 80 percent. Critics claim their accuracy rate is closer to 2 percent, while others say the forecasts are so vague there is no way to really tell.
If you've ever seen The Old Farmer's Almanac, you might be curious about the hole in the corner. This special feature allowed subscribers to hang the book from a nail or a string.
Why would someone want to hang their almanac from a string? Believe it or not, The Old Farmer's Almanac came before toilet paper, and many subscribers would hang their copy in their outhouse and tear out pages to use as toilet paper!