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Home UK Christmas World Archive Advent Calendars and Their Purpose

Advent Calendars and Their Purpose

The advent calendar is a calendar that is used to count down the days until Christmas; the counting down of the days until Christmas also overlaps with the Christian season of advent. There are many different tales of how the advent calendar came to be and the exact reason for which it was made; the truth is there are many reasons as to why this particular calendar was invented, and not a single one of them can be falsified.

child wearing Christmas hat reaching up to hanging advent calendar

One theory is that the advent calendar was came from German Lutherans in the early 19th century – it’s thought that the Lutherans would physically count down the days to Christmas using the advent calendar. The idea of the calendar quickly spread throughout Europe and Northern America; the first pictures to be used in advent calendars were taken from the Hebrew bible.

In Latin the term “adventus” translated to the word “arrival”; which is why an advent calendar marks the arrival of Christmas and the countdown of the advent season.


The contemporary calendars that are issued throughout the winter season were inspired by Gerhard Lang. Gerhard was a printer for the company Reichhold & Lang of Munich, it was in 1908 that Lang decided to create little religious pictures that could be fixed to the inside of an advent calendar; several years after this creation Lang also created a calendar with doors. Unfortunately Lang went out of business 30 years later but shortly after the Sankt Johannis Printing Company began to produce calendars with doors too; although instead of presenting a picture behind each door there was instead a bible verse.


However, before Lang began producing printed calendars a handmade calendar had been created. The Lower Austrian Landes museum states that the first advent calendar was developed in Hamburg in 1902.


There was also another method that was used to count down the days of advent; this was by using an advent candle. The advent candle was made up of 25 marks and each day the candle would be lit and a mark would be burnt away. Although advent calendars are much safer due to the fact that they don’t encourage the use of fire, the majority of modern advent calendars do not contain any religious content.

An advent clock or other such structure could also be used to count each of the days of advent. These advent clocks held 24 candles to mark each of the days, whilst other parts of Europe that spoke German would place a wreath on their door to mark that advent was upon them.

There are very few people that celebrate advent in these traditional ways; the most popular amongst children is a calendar with small windows that can be opened, and behind each window is a piece of chocolate and a picture.

For more information on Christmas celebrations, decorations or anything festive get in touch with us at UK Christmas World; we’d be more than happy to help with any queries that you may have. Don’t forget to bookmark our blog for the latest Christmas news!

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