- Culture & Society
How Advent Calendar shorten the wait until Christmas
26 Nov 2021
The tradition of the Adventskalender or Advent calendar increases the anticipation of Christmas for both children and adults. For that anticipation we have a word in German which is mostly used in regards to the anticipation of Christmas: Vorfreude (pre-joy). In the weeks leading up to Christmas (i.e. during Advent), the Advent calendar presents small surprises every day in the form of pictures, chocolate or gifts. The aim is to shorten the long wait for Christmas in the cold and grey month of December. Most Advent calendars start on 1st of December, even though Advent begins on the Sunday four weeks before Christmas with the first Advent.
The tradition of the Advent calendar has existed in Germany since the 19th century. At that time, however, the calendar, which counted the days until Christmas, had other forms. For example, 24 chalk lines were drawn on the wall from which children could remove one line each day. Other customs were Christmas clocks or candles that were burned every day up to a certain mark. Especially for children, these customs were a nice help to visualise the remaining time until Christmas.
The first Advent calendar printed on paper appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1920s, little doors were added, behind which pictures were hidden. While the pictures and symbols were initially exclusively Christian, the visual language changed over time. Especially under the influence of the Nazi regime, Christian symbols were banned and replaced by military motifs and runes. Even though the motifs were changed in the course of denazification, the tradition still retained some non-religious aspects. In addition to motifs such as angels and Baby Jesus, locomotives, the logo of one's favourite football team or winter landscapes can also be found on Advent calendars today. In the 1950s, the wait was sweetened by little chocolates behind the doors of Advent calendars.
Since then, there have been more and more creative versions of Advent calendars. And no longer just for children. Adults also enjoy calendars in which they find more than just little pictures or chocolates. Calendars with tea, cosmetics, tools or toys are particularly popular. The most beautiful calendars are usually the ones you make yourself. There are no limits to creativity - from little bags strung on a string, small boxes or jars filled with treasures, to little letters with love messages.
Media Advent calendars are a relatively new phenomenon. In podcasts, for example, little stories are told every day. On television, films are shown in 24 small episodes, and on social media, the community is graced with a post every day. Speaking of which, New2Germany also has a virtual Advent calendar ready for you this year. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to make sure you don't miss any of the posts starting from Dec 1, 2021. We'll be explaining a different Christmas tradition every day to get you in the Christmas spirit.
Did we get you looking forward to Christmas? Feel free to ask us any other questions about Christmas and Advent at [email protected] or in the comments below.
Written by: Tanja Holbe
Cover Photo: Tanja Holbe
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