Advent begins today. For many it has come to mean an extra piece of calendar based chocolate each day until Christmas Eve – but what is it really about and when and where did it start (we don’t mean the 1st December)?
So, as the build up to Christmas really starts to stretch its legs, here’s advent explained along with a look at some of the best advent calendars …
What is advent?
Advent is a Christian seasonal belief and preparation of the Nativity of Jesus. It’s an expectant time as excitement builds for the big celebrations on Christmas Day. But it also has a second meaning in that it anticipates the second coming of Christ. An analogy for our modern world would be the trailers and promotional activity for a new film sequel or TV series – except that the subject matter is a little different and deeply faith based.
When is advent?
Advent traditionally starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, but in our consumer driven world it has come to mean 1st December. In the middle ages it began at the Feast of St Martin on November 11th, and was also a time of fasting. In the Eastern orthodox church it still represents a fasting and is called ‘Lenten’ rather than advent.
When did it start?
It’s thought that Advent was first observed in the 4th Century, when it was part of the ritual for preparing oneself for baptism. During the middle ages it gained popularity as the preparation for the second coming.
Advent also provides a loose marker for when you can begin putting up decorations. Traditionally these are the advent wreath and the ubiquitous calendar. Whilst the wreath has heritage – it was conceived in northern Europe as a celebration of life (when constructed with evergreen leaves and candles) – the calendar is a relatively new addition and thought to have been invented in Germany sometime in the 19th Century.
3 great Advent Calendars
Original advent calendars were a laminated poster with 24 perforated and numbered doors. As Christmas counted down you open each door to reveal a small festive image. Since the late 1970s though, the advent calendar has evolved with the commercialisation and excess of Christmas. Most of us will be familiar with the Chocolate variety, but what else is out there…
#1 Lego Advent Calendar
The block based toy phenomenon just lends itself to an Advent calendar – and The Lego City Advent calendar is the result. It’s a calendar packed with 24 hidden gifts, some in kit form so you’ll construct them over more than one day. It goes a new meaning to the phrase – The Build Up to Christmas.
#2 Gin, Giminey
A calendar opening strictly for adults and definitely one to leave until the evening – the Gin advent calendar includes 24 3cl bottles of gin, concealed behind those little doors. We wonder if they’ve also included pictures and recipes for Gin based cocktails as part of the package. Crimbo Singapore Sling anyone?
#3 Top Shop Jewellery
OK – we’re not talking Boodles and Dunthorne, but the Top Shop Jewellery Advent Calendar is just the job for the party season. Including jewellery surmises like stud earrings, charm necklaces and bracelets, it’s sure to be a hit with the girls who need something different to accessorise the office party(ies).
Hmmm… maybe we should make a special ABC Selfstore Advent calendar – with storage unit doors – and behind each day a little tiny stored object shaped chocolate treat inside. What would your favourite day be – home belongings, shop stock, an archive box?