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Origins of Advent

December 5, 2016

The time Advent begins varies, but it is around the time of the year that the days are almost at their shortest.  It makes sense that we welcome the practice of hopeful anticipation each day in preparation for a holiday.

The practice of marking Advent originated in the 19th century where families made a chalk mark on their door 24 days leading up to Christmas.  This progressed to putting pictures up on the wall each day.

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Gratuitous hamster picture from April’s Animals.

In 1904 an Advent Calendar was inserted in the newspaper “Neues Tagblatt Stuttgart” as a gift for their readers.

Jenny Lee from the Vancouver Sun tells us that, “the first known advent calendar dates back to 1851. The first printed advent calendar may have been produced in Hamburg in 1902 by a Protestant bookshop, or by Munich printer Gerhard Lang of Reichhold & Lang in 1908, according to German advent calendar manufacturers Richard Sellmer Verlag. Lang created and sold at least 30 designs before his firm went out of business in the 1930s.The Second World War put a stop to the popular German tradition when cardboard was rationed.”

It sounds like the exact origins of the Advent calendar may be a bit unclear.  But if it is like the practices of my friends I talked about yesterday with mothers and fathers making things for their children, I tend to think this is one of the most likely stories;

According to Richard Sellmer Verlag, “when Gerhard Lang was a child his mother made him an Advent Calendar with 24 “Wibbele” (little candies) which were stuck on a cardboard. Later Lang was a participator of the printing office Reichhold & Lang. He produced little colored pictures which could be affixed on a cardboard at every day in December. This was the first printed Advent Calendar, although without windows to open, published in 1908. This Calendar was named “Christmas-Calendar” or “Munich Christmas-Calendar”. At the beginning of the 20th Lang produced the first Advent Calendars with little doors to open.”  Richard Sellmer printed the first calendar after the war in 1946.

During his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower was photographed opening an Advent calendar, and they became popular in North America.

Pictures, verses, candies have been popular and stand the test of time for the Advent calendar.  It may be a passing fad to have beer or other spirits, but this year my hamster friends and I are enjoying the ride with my spirits calendar!  Today we took the opportunity to savour this moment, and opened the door to St Patrick Irish cream liqueur.  Irish whiskey blended with real Wisconsin dairy cream and natural flavours.  Mmm, savoured to the last drop.

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