The origins of the Advent calendar stem from German Lutherans who, at least as early as the beginning of the 19th century, would count down the first 24 days of December physically. Often this meant simply drawing a chalk line on the door each day, beginning on December 1. Some families had more elaborate means of marking the days, such as lighting a new candle (perhaps the genesis of today’s Advent wreath) or hanging a little religious picture on the wall each day.
The 24 candles might also be placed on a structure, which was known as an “Advent clock”. In December 1839, the first verifiable public Advent wreath was hung in the prayer hall of the Rauhes Haus (relief house) in Hamburg, although it had been a family practice in parts of German-speaking Europe since the 17th century.
The first known Advent calendar was handmade in 1851. According to the Lower Austrian Landesmuseum, the first printed Advent calendar was produced in Hamburg in 1902 or 1903. Other authorities state that a Swabian parishioner, Gerhard Lang, was responsible for the first printed calendar, in 1908.
Lang was certainly the progenitor of today’s calendar. He was a printer in the firm Reichhold & Lang of Munich who, in 1908, made 24 little colored pictures that could be affixed to a piece of cardboard. Several years later, he introduced a calendar with 24 little doors. He created and marketed at least 30 designs before his firm went out of business in the 1930s. In this same time period, Sankt Johannis Printing Company started producing religious Advent calendars, with Bible verses instead of pictures behind the doors.
The traditional calendar consists of two pieces of card stock on top of each other. Twenty-four doors are cut out in the top layer, with a number ranging from one to twenty-four on each. Beginning on the first day of December, one door is opened each day, counting down the days remaining until Christmas Eve, from one to twenty-four where the 24th door often holds an extra surprise like an extra-large piece of chocolate. Some modern calendars are labeled as “countdown calendars” and are designed to start at number 24 and countdown to number 1 so the number of days until Christmas can be easily determined. Each compartment displays an image, which can be either a feature of the Nativity story and the birth of Jesus or a piece of paraphernalia to do with Christmas (e.g., bells or holly).
Advent calendars can also consist of cloth sheets with small pockets to be filled with candy or other small gift items. Many calendars have been adapted by merchandisers and manufacturers to include a piece of chocolate or other confectionery behind each compartment. These are often aimed at children who are counting down to Christmas and the arrival of Santa Claus, and have often been criticized for not relating to the Nativity and simply cashing in on Christmas sales. An example of this is the annual Lego Advent Calendar, which has 24 doors with LEGO pieces behind each and Playmobil has 24 Playmobil items such as a Santa figure.
Bild von ASSY auf Pixabay
Bild von _Alicja_ auf Pixabay