The Coming Of Advent
by Sasha Kanal
Advent marks the start of the festive season; Sasha Kanal not only details the history but also gives us ideas for your own homemade calendars. Let the Christmas countdown begin!
Advent calendars are as much a part of Christmas as crackers and stockings, but it hasn’t always been this way. In fact they are a relatively new seasonal tradition, with the very first one reputed to have been produced in Bavaria, Southern Germany in 1908. This is the Advent calendar as we now know it; a way to count down the days until Christmas in paper form. Their gorgeous, mysterious little doors beckoning us to peel them back to reveal illustrations (sometimes biblical) and small toys or chocolate. A delight for children and adults alike!
One of the precursors to the Advent calendar originated in 1700’s Scandinavia in the Lutheran Church, where the tradition is to mark the first 24 days of December with candles (Julkalendar) or cross the days off on a chalkboard. According to records, the Advent wreath came next, something we still see across Europe today.
The idea of the Advent calendar spread from Scandinavia and Germany to the rest of Europe and the USA in the post war period, becoming hugely popular in families as a way of marking the beginning of the festive season and helping children countdown to Christmas Day. In the UK, the first Advent calendars containing chocolate was produced in 1958.
If you fancy doing something different and creative, then here are some fabulous ideas for a homemade way to mark Advent. Happy Christmas!
- Get thrifty and use a fabric shoe organiser with 24 pockets and hang on the wall. Either sew or stick on coloured or metallic numbers (lots of ideas online or at craft shops) to the pockets and fill with little gifts and treats!
- Get some ordinary garden twine and string it across a fireplace or hearth (well away from the fire). Buy some mini wooden pegs and small cotton bags or numbered stockings and again fill with treats or a little rhyme or poem.
- Mix and match treats with activities. Create one of the above but along with chocolate and small gifts, include an activity that the recipient has to act out. It could be singing a carol or telling a joke to making Christmas biscuits or (in keeping with the spirit of goodwill to all men) undertaking random acts of kindness!
- Adult Advent. Fill little numbered gift bags with foodie treats such as gourmet cheeses and unusual snacks or better still small bottles of spirits or wine. Keep out of reach of children!
- Finally for something much more minimalist, get 24 gorgeous silvered or copper tea light holders, stand them in a row along a windowsill or dining table, fill with tea-lights and light one each day in the run up Christmas. Perfect!