The Tale of the Advent Calendar

Paul Orejimi, Writer

In an article by “Parents”, somewhere in the 20th century, a young Gerhard Lang was given a calendar by his mother, which had 24 candies attached to cardboard, one for each day before Christmas. Years later, Gerhard Lang would print the first Advent calendar in Germany. The Advent calendar is something many know as a way to countdown the days leading up to Christmas, where each day brought about a new gift. However not many people know the history behind it nor the reasons for its rules.

According to “Vox”, the source used in this adventure, in general, the Advent calendar begins on December 1. However the season of Advent – which is the season leading up to Christ’s birth – does not have a set start date. The end date, being Christmas, remains the same. The cause of this occurrence is due to the fact that in Western Christian churches Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and then is celebrated each Sunday leading up to Christmas. Because Christmas could fall on any day, the distance between the fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Day varies. The Advent calendar is much more constant since it always starts on December 1 and always ends on either Christmas Eve or Christmas day depending on which one you get, whether it’s the 25 day or 24 day version. By using this system, it makes using Advent calendars much easier, because it’s the same set amount of days.

As for the history behind Advent calendars, we have to go back in time to the 20th century of Germany. As stated, Gerhard Lang printed the first Advent calendar in Germany after receiving a handmade one from her mother. Prior to this, there was a time were Nazi Germany wanted to change Christmas from a religious celebration to a time to praise the motherland due to the issue that Jesus being Jewish was troublesome for the Nazi’s racist ideology. A fully colored calendar was printed by the Third Reich 1938 (after already being created by Gerhard Lang). The intention of it was to make the children loyal to Germany. On one Advent day it would have pictures that tell the Christmas story of Jesus, however the text below it talks about a woodcutter, soldier, and king who get lost in the woods and find a woman with a baby that has some wise things to say to them. After WWII, Christian Advent Calendars made their return and were even popularized by Newsweek’s photo of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s grandchildren with an Advent calendar taken in 1953.

And so, that is the history of the advent calendar and its interesting components. It should be mentioned that there are so many different kinds of advent calendars, ranging from a fidget toy advent calendar to even a Lego one.

Regardless of your religion, if you want something to use to countdown those long days before Christmas or you want a way to get presents beforehand, head down to your local store to purchase yourself an advent calendar, or maybe even make one yourself.