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An almanac ( Middle Dutch almanag from Middle Latin almanachus = (astronomical) from the Arabic root منح manaḥa , also yearbook ) is a periodic, usually once a year publication on a thematically delimited subject area.

The Duden distinguishes between (former) use as a calendar of related illustrated collection of texts from various fields such as fiction, theater, fashion, travel and the like, as well as a published a special occasion or for promotional reasons cross section of the annual production of a publishing house .

The term annual volume is also used synonymously, but often means the bound year of a magazine.


The term almanac originally referred to an astronomical table work , is derived from the Arabic word المنحة al-minḥa or المنح al manḥ , which means "gift" or especially "New Year's gift". Another interpretation is based on the Spanish-Arabic al mankh (for example "calendar of the firmament"). The digital dictionary of the German language refers to an almanac, a yearbook with poetic additions and pictures, originally a 'calendar with astronomical and meteorological information' with uncertain origin. The word is probably based on the Ibero-Arabic almanāḫ for 'calendar', an otherwise unknown word in Arabic. Reference is made to a possibly underlying Syrian word l · manḥaï 'next year', which has been semantically reinterpreted as 'calendar, time table'; The Ibero-Arabic expression led through the astronomical Arabs of Spain to the Middle Latin almanac and almanachus , from which old French and French almanac originated around 1300 , Italian almanacco (mid-14th century), Spanish almanaque (around 1410), English almanac (end of the 14th century) Century) and was finally transferred into German as an almanac in the 16th century by the Flemish almanag ( documented in commercial invoices in 1426 ) .

Smart. Etymological dictionary of the German languages , however, refers to Greek alemenichiaká, which in the 4th century (with Eusebius) referred to the Egyptian calendar. A Coptic origin of the word is assumed. About Middle Latin almanachus appears English almanac 1267, Italian almanaco 1345 and in the early 15th century French almanac . The word found its way into New High German in the 15th century via Flemish almanag (cf. Dutch almanak ). According to Kluge, the Arabic almanah is said to be borrowed from Middle Latin .

History of the Almanac

Originally the term almanac was used for astronomical ephemeris that contained the positions of the sun, moon or planets calculated in advance in chronological or calendar- like form and were provided with notes. In the Middle Ages they spread from the Orient to Europe.

Annual almanacs were published as early as the incunable period . The so-called almanac for the year 1448 (actually produced around 1457/58) was one of the earliest printed works. Around 1460 the astronomer Georg von Peuerbach created one of the first European almanacs in Vienna , under the title Pro annis pluribus . His successor Johannes Müller from Königsberg (hence the Latin name Regiomontanus ) calculated a new almanac in 1474 on behalf of the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus , printed in German and Latin. As a sequel, the almanac nova plurimis annis venturis inserentia by Johannes Stöffler was published in 1499 .

Interest in such almanacs was often astrologically motivated. The astrological use of such almanacs or ephemeris was also taught at universities. A lecture by Georg Tannstetter in Vienna was printed in 1518 under the title Usus almanach seu Ephemeridum .

Astronomical and calendar dates, astrological notes and prophecies, and other content were added to such almanacs . In the 17th century it became common to print messages as well. For example, the French royal almanac (Almanache royal) , which appeared in Paris from 1679, contained information about court festivals, fairs, markets and minting places. From 1699 it also contained the genealogy of the French royal family, a list of the nobility and high clergy and other things. This type of printed matter spread from France to Germany , where a whole series of almanacs appeared from the 18th century.

In addition to the actual calendar data, many of them also contained anecdotes, poems or short stories . With the advent of their own printed calendars in the 18th century, the almanac became a separate genre of periodically published books of the most varied kinds. There were genealogical, nautical, agricultural, diplomatic or even purely literary almanacs.

Frauenzimmer-Almanach for the year 1817 , published in Leipzig

Among the latter, the Almanacs of the Muses deserve special mention. For example, the Göttingen Muses Almanac and the Muses Almanac published by Friedrich Schiller were known . Before the introduction of copyright law , these almanacs were the economically viable print medium for authors because of the numerous pirated prints . Numerous should be mentioned, such as the Eidora , the Helena , the Urania , even an evangelical almanac - the Christoterpe  - found its audience.

Children's and youth yearbooks

From the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th century, yearbooks, collector's books and illustrated youth calendars were among the most popular and influential books for young people. Examples are The Good Comrade , The New Universe , The Workmate , Miracles in Space, and The Great Readers Digest Youth Book . In Switzerland, the Helveticus accompanied the youth as a general education work over several generations. These books consisted of a loose collection of shorter fictional stories (including the first science fiction short stories published in Germany ), natural history reports (mainly about expeditions, foreign peoples, natural wonders) and technical contributions ( locomotives , ships, civil engineering, Radio and television technology).

The most successful yearbooks were richly and carefully illustrated, some of them containing color plates and fold-out exploded views as well as richly decorated, sturdy bindings since the twenties . The typesetting, which was rather unusual at the time, was varied and neatly designed and had several columns. Because of the elaborate presentation, Der Gute Kamerad and Das Neue Universum , in particular, were priced in the upper segment.

In terms of age, most yearbooks were aimed at 10 to 17 year olds. The technical contributions in particular were often extensively researched so that they could serve both as a “stimulus to be amazed ” for younger children and as a solid source of information for young adults.

The books were initially gender-specific, but from the mid-1960s onwards they increasingly addressed boys and girls alike. The efforts to include interesting contributions for girls, however, worked very hard and showed almost no success.

Due to the long loyalty to the readers, which sometimes lasted for entire generations, yearbooks had a considerable influence on the interests and moral and ideological formation of young people in the 20th century. The most influential yearbooks were humanistic - educational ; so appeared in Der Gute Kamerad 1889 the contribution "A plea for enslaved humanity" by Erich Heinemann.

The virtues conveyed in the fictional stories were mostly limited to fairness , camaraderie , team spirit and alertness. An exception was Der Arbeitskamerad , which during the Nazi era was primarily aimed at apprentices and factory school students and was supposed to convey subordination to the prevailing structures as a noble goal.

After the end of the last yearbook Das Neue Universum , there was no comparable genre of literature for young people. Whether the dwindling interest in technical issues is the cause or effect of the yearbook death is controversial. It was not until the discovery of contributions by the first German science fiction authors, some of which were written under pseudonyms, in the 1990s, and the rediscovery of Karl May stories (1891 The Legacy of the Inka ) that yearbooks found a certain appreciation in the literary scene.

Examples of today's almanacs

To this day there are still almanacs with literary , artistic , sporting or local history content.

Nautical almanacs

Another category of almanacs are astronomical yearbooks , of which the Astronomical and the Nautical Almanac are published in international cooperation. The Nautical Yearbook is the official manual for astronomical navigation in German ocean shipping. The 32-page Almanaque Pintoresco de Bristol , which has been published annually since 1808, is particularly popular with the rural population of Latin America, where it is still an important guide today.

See also


  • Maria Countess Lanckoronska and Arthur Rümann: History of the German paperbacks and almanacs from the classical-romantic period . Heimeran, Munich 1954. (New edition Osnabrück 1985, ISBN 3-87898-301-8 )

Web links

Wiktionary: Almanac  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Yearbook  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Almanach in, accessed on August 25, 2014
  2. ^ Almanac in: Microsoft Encarta
  3. Almanac in DWDS , accessed on August 25, 2014.
  4. ^ Friedrich Kluge , Alfred Götze : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 20th edition. Edited by Walther Mitzka , De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1967; Reprint (“21st unchanged edition”) ibid 1975, ISBN 3-11-005709-3 , p. 15.
  5. ^ Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer : Humanism between court and university. Georg Tannstetter (Collimitius) and his scientific environment in Vienna in the early 16th century . Vienna 1996, pp. 144f.
  6. Wolf-Dieter Müller-Jahncke : Medicine and Pharmacy in Almanacs and Calendars of the Early Modern Age. In: Joachim Telle (ed.): Pharmacy and the common man. Family medicine and pharmacy in German writings of the early modern period (exhibition of the Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel in the hall of the armory from 23 August 1982 to March 1983). Wolfenbüttel 1982 (= exhibition catalogs of the Herzog-August-Bibliothek , 36), pp. 35–42.
  7. Social Almanac of Caritas Switzerland in, accessed on 10 October, 2014.