Advent Calendars in the UK , a Christmas tradition!

Gemma, Tti School’s Principal, writes below about the Christmas tradition of Advent Calendars.

I grew up on the south coast of England in the Brighton area.  As a child, each year I would be given an advent calendar and it was the most exciting thing!  The countdown to Christmas!

They have been part of my family’s Christmas tradition (and most families in the UK) for as long as I can remember.  We wanted to bring this tradition to Tti for December 2014.  In preparation for this,  I’ve done some research and here are some facts I’ve found out:

What is Advent?

Advent is the start of the New Christian year .  Originally it was a time when new converts to Christianity prepared for their baptism, but has become the period of time when they await the arrival of Jesus (his birth).  Advent starts on the Sunday closest to November 30th and counts down to the 25th December.  It has been celebrated since the 4th Century.

When did advent calendars start?

Advent Calenders can be traced back to the 19th Century and started in Germany.  They don’t follow the true Advent dates but are instead from 1st December to 24th December.   At this time, they weren’t printed calendars, German Protestants would make chalk marks on doors or light candles to count down.

When did we have the first printed calendars?

It is believed these were made by Gerhard Lang in the early 1900s.  The World Wars stopped this tradition as cardboard was rationed  but then it restarted in 1946 and as early as 1958 there were chocolate filled advent calendars on sale.

When did advent calendars start to become so commercial?

President Eisenhower was photographed with his grandchildren opening an advent calendar during his presidency of the USA, in 1953.  This photo that ran in several national newspapers and therefore, he is often credited with increasing their popularity.

What is an advent calendar?

The traditional format is a rectangle card with “windows” that are numbered from one to twenty-four; one for each day leading up until Christmas day.  The doors are opened daily in consecutive order and reveal a festive image, religious poem or more recently chocolate or a small gift or toy.  Some are strictly religious but others are more secular .  There are more modern designs too, see below.

Here is Tti’s 2014 Advent Calendar!



Do you have any traditions leading up to Christmas Day or any other holiday this time of year? How does your family celebrate the holidays? We hope to read your responses in the comments!

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