The origins of the Advent Calendar

1st December is often a day of excitement in family households around the UK. The day when chocolate for breakfast is acceptable and the mark of Christmas well and truly beginning. But the Advent Calendar hasn’t always been chocolates, treats and gifts hidden behind a paper door, counting down the days until Christmas. Here we take a look at the origins of one of our favourite yule-time traditions.

What does Advent even mean?

Traditionally, Advent is the period of the four Sundays and weeks before Christmas. Not from 1st December to Christmas Day as we are so used to! The word itself means ‘coming’ in Latin, and therefore Advent is supposed to be a time of preparation for the coming of Christmas.

When did the Advent Calendar begin?

The first evidence found goes all the way back to the 19th century. German Lutherans would mark the 24 days to Christmas physically, sometimes by marking a chalk line for each day, sometimes by lighting a candle or hanging religious pictures each day.

advent-calendar-candle
Traditionally lighting candles was one way to count the days to Christmas

Today’s version of the Advent Calendar is credited to Gerhard Lang, a parishioner who worked for a printer in 1908. Gerhard came up with the idea of 24 little doors, which he created and sold until his business closed in the 1930s.

During the same time that Gerhard was producing his original Advent Calendars, another company had starting producing some with Bible verses behind the closed doors. That gave way to our modern take on the Advent Calendar!

Although many have criticized the modern version and argue it loses the true meaning of Christmas. However, the Advent Calendar has become a popular craft activity for families. So it’s a great way of bringing people together at this time of year!

advent calendar
A creative take on the Advent Calendar

Who gets an Advent Calendar in your family? Just the kids, or grown-ups too?

(causing a storm for mums and dads this year has been the Virgin Wines Advent Calendar!)

Let us know on our Woolacombe Bay Facebook or Twitter pages.

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