As the first day of December, it is also the first day of Advent season. One of my favorite holiday traditions as a child was waking up every morning and seeing what treat was behind the window of the day. In celebration of the holiday season, we’ve put together a little post that gives a brief history of advent calendars and some of my favorites this season as suggestions if you haven’t picked yours up already.
Advent Calendars originated in Germany during 19th century when Lutherans began physically counting down the 24 days until Christmas Eve. As the name implies, Advent Calendars are connected with the ancient Christian season of Advent, a time of preparation until the coming of Christ. The word ‘advent’ comes from the Latin word adventus which comes from the verb advenio – to come. Quite a fitting word for the season for the purpose of the Advent season is to commemorate the first coming of Jesus Christ and prepare one’s soul for his second coming. For a long time, the season of Advent was a time of fasting and penitence, much like Easter is with Lent, but over time, this penitential aspect faded away. Advent also used to be celebrated for 40 days instead of the 24 days it is now celebrated as. Americans are quite lucky that the practice of fasting for the 40 days of Advent died out because we would not have Thanksgiving otherwise!
The different ways Lutherans began to physically count down the days until Christmas Eve included a chalk mark on the door, a lit candle in the window, or little religious paintings hung up on the wall every night until Christmas Eve. Lit candles have been an important German Christmas tradition since at least the 17th century and pop up in many German Christmas traditions. For example, German Christmas trees have lit candles placed on them and the Advent wreath – four candles on an evergreen wreath – are lit for each of the four Sundays before Christmas to countdown the time until Christmas Eve, much like the Advent calendar.
The first actual Advent calendar was made in 1903, but it did not take too long before printing companies began printing advent’s calendars on a grander scale. Today, Advent Calendars are widely popular throughout the world and have spawned some new traditions outside of Germany. In the Nordic countries, for example, Christmas calendars have taken the form of televised TV programs with installments aired each day during the 24 days of Christmas. So join in the fun and pick up your own calendar!
1. Heidel Nostalgic Advent Calendar – This one is the epitome of advent calendars, very classic!
2. Playmobil Princess Wedding Advent Calendar – Open a new toy every day, I loved Playmobil and would have done anything for this when I was a kid!
3. Starbucks Advent Calendar – I had to include this one since I’m obsessed with Starbucks, they have them in-store as well.
4. North Pole Advent Calendar – Find a chocolatey North Pole friend every morning (this one has a variety of chocolates)
5. Playmobil Forest Winter Wonderland Advent Calendar – A more traditional Christmas themed Playmobil, they also have a pirate theme on the same site
I hope this post has inspired you to start preparing for the holidays and enjoy the fun traditions!