Do you know the History of the Advent Calendar?
You don't need an Advent calendar to know that Christmas is coming, but opening a little numbered door to reveal a prize is an idea that everyone – religious or not – can get behind. Here’s a brief history of Advent calendars and six non-traditional designs of a popular tradition.
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 25.
Advent Calendar Origins Advent calendars typically don’t follow the period of Advent described above. Instead, they begin on December 1 and mark the 24 days before Christmas. Today, most Advent calendars include paper doors that open to reveal an image, message and/or or piece of chocolate. The tradition dates to the mid-19th century, when German Protestants made chalk marks on doors or lit candles to count the days leading up to Christmas.
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 coloured 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.
Here’s a look at some non-traditional Advent calendars that we think would make Gerhard Lang proud.
The $50,000 Advent Calendar
One of the most expensive Advent calendars to ever hit the shelves was a four-foot, Christmas-tree shaped structure carved from burr elm and walnut wood available through Harrods in 2007. Each of the $50,000 calendar’s 24 compartments housed a piece of organic chocolate from Green & Black, with proceeds going to support cocoa farmers in Belize.
The World’s Largest Advent Calendar
A building in Gloucester, England’s King’s Square was transformed into the world’s largest Advent calendar last December. The interactive calendar, which turned one of the city’s major eyesores into a giant, ribbon-tied Christmas present, was designed to promote local businesses during the busiest shopping season of the year. Beginning December 1, a new window was opened every day, revealing the logo of a different city business that offered specials until Christmas.
Toy Advent Calendars
Many toy manufacturers now produced their own advent calendars, with small toys, stationery, stickers and even football cards behind each door. The development of advent calendars has really powered up over the last few years, with a lot of major brands now making their own special edition ones.
Personalised Advent Calendars
Our advent calendars here at Snapajack are truly unique as you can add any photo / message to the main body of the calendar, as well as being able to personalise behind each door if you want to. Perfect for love messages, chores for kids, messages from Santa or extra treats like days out and cinema nights. To order your Snapajack advent calendar just click here.