Written by Daniel Puma
Advent calendars have been a time-honored holiday tradition since the early 1800s. They grace store shelves every year as Christmas approaches. Children, with snowballing anticipation, open the date’s corresponding compartment as the days countdown. What’s the story behind these chocolate filled calendars? When did they come into existence and what is their purpose?
Advent is a season observed by many people of the Christian faith in the lead up to Christmas. It is believed Lutherans began the tradition of counting down the days of advent using a special calendar. Early versions of the season’s calendars used chalk marks or candles to represent each day. Over time, they morphed into similar versions we see today, a series of numbered windows or doors that are opened each day through Christmas Eve.
When the windowed versions of advent calendars first came into existence, they held bible verses or important words and phrases. Over the years, advent calendars started including pieces of chocolate along with the traditional messages. Advent calendars printed on cardboard for mass production began in the early 1900s in Germany. Production stopped during WWII, but quickly resumed afterwards. Since then, commercially produced versions of the calendar have been a popular tradition for many households during the holiday season.
Today, advent calendars are not solely a Christian construct. They aim to appeal to anyone wanting to countdown from Dec. 1 to Christmas. The calendars have countless designs including sports, traditional Christmas themes, children’s toys and even Star Wars. Here at Schnucks, we sell advent calendars for kids with themes such as Frozen and Paw Patrol. While chocolate is most commonly found in mass-produced advent calendars, the modern world has seen numerous gifts and prizes designed to match the theme of the calendar.
Lego has been producing advent calendars in which each day, figures and accessories are hidden behind the door. When combined they complete the set featured on the box. There are digital advent calendars where a new tool for computer programmers and web designers is revealed each day. Some grown-up versions include different types of whiskey, makeup, craft beer and jewelry.
The creativity behind these holiday calendars has exploded in the last 20 years. Now, there seems to be an advent calendar for everything and they can come in any shape, size and design. Who wouldn’t like getting a small gift every day? It’s fun for kids and adults, knowing that each day, there is something new hidden behind a door for you to enjoy. Additionally, each door that opens means it’s another day closer to Christmas.
If you want to give someone the advent calendar experience, but don’t care to buy a commercial advent calendar, try making your own. Stop by Schnucks and pick up an assortment of candy, coffee, hot tea, wine, beer, soda or any other item of variety. Customize it to the person you love and enjoy watching them open each day with fervor and enthusiasm.