As we count down the days until Christmas throughout December, many are struggling to contain their enthusiasm for the winter holidays.
Advent calendars are a way to spread that anticipation throughout the month.
There are so many different types these days, from chocolate classics or simple bay windows to huge beauty or alcohol calendars.
Although many of us pull out our calendars year after year, not all of us know the story behind why we do it.
Here’s where the tradition of advent calendars began and why we still celebrate them today.
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Where do advent calendars come from?
As with many Christmas traditions, the roots of advent calendars can be found in Germany.
Around the beginning of the 19th century, German Protestants began to mark the days of Advent by burning candles or marking walls and doors with a chalk line.
Back then, the days of Advent were the four Sundays before Christmas Day.
This means that Advent would often begin before the start of December, unlike most modern calendars.
The practice of hanging daily pictures led to the creation of the first advent calendar close to what we use today.
Made in 1851, this first calendar was handmade from wood.
The first printed calendars followed in 1902, with doors added to hide images in the 1920s.
Since then, Advent calendars have evolved from simple pictures to mini gifts, such as chocolates, beauty products, alcohol, etc.
Why are we counting down to Christmas with advent calendars?
The main reason we have advent calendars is simply to count down to Christmas.
As a traditional Christian and Catholic holiday, it was one of the most important holidays for Protestants and especially German Lutheran Christians.
This group started the tradition of advent calendars, so it makes sense that they would want to count down to their favorite holidays.
German Christians were also partly responsible for another favorite Christmas tradition: Christmas trees.