First Christian Church

Advent Calendars

By Mitch Jelly

History of Advent:

Advent began to be celebrated or followed in the fourth century, shortly after the first council of Nicaea dictated the Nicene Creed, wherein they tried to set forth their interpretation of the scriptures and how people should believe and what holidays they should have and when. The word advent means coming, as in the coming of Jesus Christ. Advent celebrates his first coming and looks forward to his second coming. The German Lutherans seem to be the first Christians to come up with the advent calendar, which started on December first and was used to count down the days to the birth of baby Jesus. In the beginning people would put a chalk mark on their door or the number of the day, others would light a new candle each day which symbolized the light of Christ ever shining.

Advent calendars were first made by hand, there are stories of families putting 24 candies on a board where children could take 1 candy off per day to count down the days to Christmas which celebrates the birth of Christ. Later, as with most things advent calendars became commercialized, when the first commercial calendar was made is a point of dispute, some saying it was made in 1902 others say 1908 by Gerhard Lang. Langs printing firm made calendars with pictures and then made little doors over them. Unfortunately his firm went out of business in the mid 1930s and the practice of using advent calendars seems to have died off during World War 2. Once the war was over a man named Richard Sellmer who lived in Stuttgart Germany started making the advent calendars once more. This time the market grew to much of the world, which also means several other companies now also produce advent calendars.

Modern Advent Calendars:

Most advent calendars have 24 little doors like the Wooden Santa Advent Calendar or even 24 drawers, in these drawers or behind the doors there can be a picture or a bible verse, something to do with the nativity, although more often today its just something to do with Santa and less to do with Christ. By using 24 days, you can start advent on December one and count down to the 24 which is Christmas Eve, although some calendars have 25 to make it to Christmas Day. The idea is to open the door with the number on it that corresponds to the date, behind the door is a picture that relates to the nativity or a phrase from the Bible that relates to the birth of Christ. There are some electronics like the Talking Advent Calendars with Nativity Scene which do both, as you open the door you hear about the ornament inside which relates to the Nativity scene as described in the Bible. Today calendars also have candy or chocolate inside them, which seems more directed at children or adults with a good sweet tooth, but since there is nothing relating to the birth of Christ, it seems these are more for just counting down the days till Christmas when Santa will bring presents, like the Santa and Tree Advent Calendar.

Community Advent Calendars:

Some communities get together and make large outdoor advent calendars for all to share in the count down. One of the most famous is set in a small town in Germany called Gengenbach, where they claim to have the largest outdoor advent calendar. The town hall has 24 windows and these are used as the 24 doors. Each year artists are selected to paint a scene on the windows and these are then unveiled each day. Some other towns have a traveling calendar in that windows are used on different buildings, so that you are traveling past 24 buildings looking at the window scenes, much as the wise men or shepherds traveled to see the birth of the baby Jesus.

About the Author: Mitch Jelly has been a writer for Christmas Decorations and Gifts for several years. Select to view

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