Your grandchildren most likely delight in opening the little doors on your annual Advent calendar as the December days pass by and the excitement of Christmas builds. And why not, because they’ll find a beautiful little picture and perhaps a small treat in the form of chocolate behind each door. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
The earliest Advent calendars were first introduced in Germany in the early 1800’s. The Latin word advent means “to come,” and the traditional Christian church used this time in preparation for the birth of Jesus. Advent begins each year on the Sunday closest to November 30th, which marks The Feast of St. Andrew, so it can begin anywhere from November 27th to December 3rd. But the calendars we use today always begin on December 1st and go through the 25th, Christmas.
In the earliest markings of Advent, people lit candles, one per day, or marked chalk marks on walls or floors to anticipate the day. After that early era folks began to hang paper images of biblical scenes on their walls day by day. The first handmade wooden advent calendar was made in Germany in 1851 by Gerhard Lang. Gerhard’s mother had made him a handmade version of the Advent calendar with twenty-four little candies attached to each day. Lang grew up to operate Reichhold and Lang printing company where he printed the first Advent cardboard calendars with little pictures for each day. A few years later he added the small doors to open that everyone loves today.
In modern days the earliest printed Advent calendars were made in the early 1900’s. It is said that they first held only tiny pictures behind each door, but later chocolate treats were added to entertain children during church services.
Today the Advent calendar is used both as a traditional Christian activity and as a secular waiting period, opening one tiny door each day beginning on December 1st. There are huge varieties of calendars, some simple, even homemade and others quite elaborate and expensive.
Advent calendars are most often found in printed form, but there are also larger ones in the form of a pull-out box a day to open. Of course, there are small gifts or treats in each box. In some European cities, Gengenbach in Germany and Turkcheim in France, where Christmas markets are popular, there are building-sized Advent calendars in which one window is opened at six p.m. each day as Christmas day draws nearer.
Christmas is the biggest holiday celebrated in most American and European homes. Celebrating Advent in visible and tangible ways makes the waiting period both exciting and fun. Why not share this fun experience with your grandchildren either in person or via video or online chats? The excitement of opening the little doors and finding the treat of the day is another positive way grandparents can take part in their grandchildren’s lives.
Here are my 2022 Advent Calendar Choices for kids
Here are my 2022 Advent Calendar Choices for Grandparents!
Hurry to order your calendars now, time is running out!