It’s December 1st tomorrow, which means kids all over the UK are getting an extra hit of sugar with their breakfast, courtesy of an Advent Calendar filled with chocolate treats. It’s a confection-loaded cardboard anticipation builder that charts the countdown to Christmas that’s become a staple in households. And it kicks off the run-up to the big day in earnest.
But what is Advent? When is it officially? And when did it all start? And what are the best Advent Calendars for 2017?
Well, if you were wondering, we’re here to help…
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 the 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.
Top 3 Advent Calendars for 2017
Original advent calendars were a laminated cardboard 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 Calendars
The block-based toy phenomenon just lends itself to an Advent calendar, and unsurprisingly they’ve developed quite some range. You’ll find Lego City, Lego Star Wars, and Lego Friends themed packs, each with 24 hidden parts – in kit form. The lucky owner gets to construct them throughout December – giving a whole new dimension to ‘Build Up to Christmas’. Available from most good Lego stockists.
#2 Good Afternoon, Tea?
Chocolate Liqueur calendars are a perennial favourite with Mum’s, Dad’s Grannies and Grandad’s – but they’re so 2016 (and 2015, 14 and 13 for that matter). For 2017, to overcome the gloom-and-doom of Brexit negotiations, how about a nice cup of Tea? With The English Tea Shop’s Joyous Christmas Calendar Assortment, you’ll be able to sample a different brew each day – including Advent window and includes some festive
The English Tea Shop’s Joyous Christmas Calendar Assortment will be just the tonic. Featuring samples for a different brew each day and including some especially festive blends such as Ginger Bread Man and Sleigh Ride – it’s sure to make your Christmas build-up tickety-boo. Available from Amazon.
#3 Looks like Christmas, Smells like Christmas…
The Wax Lyrical Advent Calendar – available from Debenhams and other leading outlets is a box of 25 seasonally-scented Tea Lights. With the winter nights drawn in at their darkest and coldest, what better than to relax in a hot bath, illuminated by candlelight with the aroma of a Christmases past calming you down. Winter favourites such as Toasted Cinnamon and Vanilla are joined by seasonally-themed specialities including Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, and not bad value as it’s currently on special offer at £15.
Just a thought…
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?