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The Advent Calendar

Advent is just around the corner. As August approaches it means that the Christmas Season is only a few weeks away. It does get earlier every year and starts right after Labor Day. But Advent is the true waiting period for Christmas. It’s the four week which counts back four Sundays prior to Christmas day.

There are several different manifestations of Calendars these days to help count down the days of Advent and help each family that faithfully observes Advent as a daily celebration.

The first Advent Calendar on record has the year 1851 on it and was handmade.  The first ones, dating back to the 19th century came from Protestant religious, probably Lutheran, and were as simplistic as chalk lines drawn for each day of December.

The candle was also instrumental in the early advent calendars. They were 24 candles mounted in the wreath where as today we use 4. The story of the wreath was that it also helped light the longest winter nights in Germany, where the wreath concept was believed to start. The 24 candles light the night. And function as a calendar for Advent as well. As the nights get longer, the more candles are light. Other early Advent Calendars included the use of pictures being placed on the wall or chalk on the door until Christmas.

The use of an Advent Calendar makes it a great way for kids to count down the days until Christmas. The evolution of the Advent Calendar has developed into many designs that have the days of Advent broken out and it set as an interactive way for children to participate with little windows to open each day. If it’s a true calendar, each day it will list a scripture for you to read with your family adding to the basic advent prayers that should be said each evening.

In a secular world that we now live, the the thought of how the first advent calendar was distributed might seem a bit alien.  In 1904 one of the first printed advent calendar was in printed and inserted into German newspapers as a gift to their loyal readers. There does seem to be some disagreement however where some says that Gerhard Lang published the first one in 1908.

The first German Advent Calendar, also known as a Christmas Calendar or Munich Christmas Calendar was the first ot have the little doors that are common in the modern Advent Calendars were given as children or taught with in Catholic School. The original calendars did have little Christmas themed pictures but the Sankt Johannis Printing company was credited with putting the corresponding bible verse behind the little doors.

The advent calendar spread around the world all the way though WWII that saw the end of the German era of making advent calendars and ended the tradition for Germany as a leader in making them. The card board was rationed and frivolous items such as religious calendars were forbidden by Hitler and the German government.

These calendars now are a great way to keep children focused on the season of Advent, the meaning of Christmas and how it relates to Christ and not the mall.

This article was published on Saturday 26 July, 2008.

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