The advent calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. Many take the form of a rectangular card with 24 “windows,” one for each day of December leading up to Christmas Day. The windows open to reveal an image, a portion of a story or a small gift, such as chocolate. Some calendars are strictly religious while some are just for holiday fun.
What is Advent?
Advent is the four-week period beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30) through the following three Sundays. Historians estimate that Advent, which derives from the Latin word for coming, has been celebrated since the fourth century. The period originally began as a time for converts to Christianity to prepare for baptism, but is now more commonly associated with the anticipation of the anniversary of Christ’s birth on December 25th.
The First Printed Advent Calendars
Gerhard Lang is widely considered the producer of the first printed Advent calendar in the early 1900s.
Around the same time, a German newspaper included an Advent calendar insert as a gift to its readers. Lang’s calendar was inspired by one that his mother had made for him and featured 24 colored pictures that attached to a piece of cardboard. Lang modified his calendars to include the little doors that are a staple of most Advent calendars today and they became a commercial success in Germany. Production stopped due to a cardboard shortage during World War II, but resumed soon after, with Richard Sellmer emerging as the leading producer of commercial Advent calendars.
Today we live in a digital, computerized world. The advent calendar has taken on a new look! About six years ago a friend sent me an online Christmas card produced by Jacquie Lawson, an artist living in the UK. It was beautiful and so different! I quickly became very fond of the assortment of cards she had for various holidays and non-holidays too! Then in 2010 the Advent Calendars were introduced! They are magical! Every year the advent calendar is set in a different animated background with music. The first year the calendar was set in London. Last year there was a Victorian “Downton Abbey” look. This year we are visiting a Christmas Market! The calendars come out in mid-November with puzzles and games and decorating to do while you wait for December first. There are two parts to the calendar: an indoor room and then the street scene where the “windows” are opened. It is so much fun for children and the young at heart! It is my favorite non-holiday of the year, opening the first day of the advent calendar! To check out the array of cards and calendar see the Jacquie Lawson site here!