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01Jan

Almanacs I never knew existed and why I might need one

According to Google an almanac (or almanach) is an annual calendar containing important dates and statistical information such as astronomical data and tide tables. It can also be a handbook containing information of general interest or on a sport or pastime. Back in the early 90s I had the pleasure of working for a year on Whitaker's Almanac. Of course that was in a different millennium when we used to look up answers in books and a search engine, not something the editorial team were yet familiar with. It was a fascinating experience and the breadth and depth of information contained in that one publication was truly impressive. I even contributed to the 1992 edition with an article on hallmarks! I have since discovered that almanacs are published on a very wide variety of subjects and hopefully one of the following will be of interest to you whether for gardening, sailing, solving arguments or winning the lotto!

If you read the blurb Whitaker's Concise 2021 (they dropped Almanac from the title) is the definitive reference guide to the UK. A UK-centric gold-mine of information with an enormous breadth of coverage. At a fraction of the price of the standard edition, the reader with an interest in UK facts and figures is really getting value for money. The concise edition. It contains a comprehensive explanation of every aspect of national and local government infrastructure in the UK, astronomical and tidal data for 2021, guides to UK law, education and taxation, overviews of the water, energy and transport industries, essential calendar information, chapters on royalty and peerage, defence, complete results for each constituency from the last UK General Election and an up-to-date list of MPs, government departments and public bodies - quite simply, the UK in one volume! My personal favourite.  Very establishment. Must surely be the Queen's favourite, I hope she keeps an up-to-date copy in the Palace library!
This is obviously a must-have for all cricket fans. Again a very British publication. An absolute treasure of information world cricket in the preceding year. A perfect gift for any cricket enthusiast. Or as the specialists would say "Overall, Wisden succeeds again in meeting its challenge, recording meticulously and comprehensively while finding time to breathe and reflect". -- Richard Hobson, The Cricketer
Turning to more typical almanac fare here we cross the Atlantic for North America's most well-known annual that contains facts, predictions, and feature items that have made it a cultural icon: traditionally 80 percent-accurate weather forecasts; notable astronomical events and time-honoured astrological dates; horticultural, culinary, fashion, and other trends; historical hallmarks; best fishing days; time - and money-saving garden advice; recipes for refreshment; facts on folklore, farmers, home remedies, and husbandry; amusements and contests.
You couldn't get much further from Whitaker's Almanac here. I have purposely referenced the 2020 edition even if of course 2021  is available. Any publication purporting to contain predictions for 2020 is worth getting hold of ... Brexit, Covid, etc. 
Described as a practical guide to growing, cooking and crafting. This almanac, although it contains a wealth of ideas, hints and information, because it lacks dates reviewers have complained that it is a misnomer, however, I decided to include it in my list. It comes from a publisher specialising in esoteric subject matter.
Another American almanac the National Geographic Kids' Almanac features animal stories, explorer profiles,  inventions, games, and challenges for curious kids who want to learn all about the world and everything that's in it! More of an annual than an almanac but good fun all the same.
 
This one's a little more sober and for a very niche market. (No pun intented ...) The 2021 Stock Trader’s Almanac's stated aim helping to understand the cycles, trends, and patterns that will define stock trading in 2021... Organized in calendar format it's used by top traders, investors, and money managers but also 'perfect for stock trading novices, seasoned market pros, and those who have yet to dip their toe into the lucrative world of stock trading'.
A true almanac this one; with monthly calendars and maps of both hemispheres, it charts the rhythm of lunar phases and contains up to date information on the constellations, meteors and events that take place above our heads. It features 'fascinating celestial facts and notable astronomical anniversaries'  and is approved of the astronomers of the Royal Observatory Greenwich. 
   

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