An advent calendar shows the days remaining until Christmas Eve. It is a very popular custom in German speaking countries for children to accompany the waiting period of the great feast. Advent should, like the wreath, shorten the waiting time until Christmas and heighten anticipation. Advent today in predominantly Christian countries prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
In the German speaking world children have an Advent calendar. However, there are also those that are more for adults. In the trade are widely used calendars, which are printed with Christmas motifs and on which small doors open, behind which are pictures, sayings, sweets or other surprises. Similarly, self-made calendars are used, often based on a similar principles.
The first homemade advent calendar probably dates from the year 1851. The first forms came from the Protestant environment. For example, families hung 24 pictures on the wall. Easier was a variant with 24 lines painted on the wall or door, and the children were allowed to wipe a line every day. In contrast, Catholic households laid straws in a manger, one for each day until Christmas Eve. Further forms of the Advent calendar were the Christmas clock or an Advent candle, which was burnt down every day until the next mark. At the same time the burning is a Scandinavian tradition.
Today's most popular form of the conventional Advent calendar is presumably due to an evangelical priest. The advent calendar from the 1950s was popular with the area, when it was offered as a mass article and accordingly at a favorable price. The main motifs were scenes from romantic snow-capped cities. Behind the larger window of the 24th december is usually a crib scene. There were also hand-painted advent calendars by various artists such as the Leipzig Advent calendar.
Currently, behind the 24 doors of a product purchased in addition to the small picture often pieces of chocolate in different shapes or even toys. The first chocolate filled advent calendar was marketed in 1958.
In addition, self-made calendars with 24 small gifts are produced, which can be packaged in different ways. Here, the most diverse forms can be made with the jute bags, originally from the Scandinavian area, hung on a leash, are becoming more and more popular, but even unusual ideas can be realized in self-made advent calendars.
Moreover, candles were offered as Advent, with a section for burning for every day. The world's largest freestanding advent calendar with 857 m² is in Leipzig in Hooper streets. The calendar doors are three by two meters in size and are open daily.
The Advent calendar, originally based in Germany, spread throughout the 1950s in other countries as well. For a few years, new media have been used, for example to combine the original function of the Advent calendar, the counting of the days with the narration of stories. There are audio books with 24 stories published so that the listeners every day from December 1 to Christmas Eve can hear a story. Here, too, there are wintry or adventurous motifs and content, and on legends such as St. Nicholas on December 6, a legend is told or read. Sometimes songs can be heard instead of stories. There are also advent calendars on the Internet.
In Switzerland, the Advent calendar project was introduced, as a daily SMS sent with a Advent thoughts. Since 2014 there is the project as smartphone app. A virtual Advent calendar also is for the Catholic Youth of Upper Austria. In several cities are regularly the facades of certain buildings, often of town halls, transformed into large Advent calendars. A famous example is the City Hall, before the Vienna Christmas Market takes place. A special tradition has developed in several cities and villages on the days of Advent and December, you go to a shop window, barn door or something similar, where a door was designed and a story read or told.
In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Württemberg also the annual biggest Advent calendar in the world was a few years before. Here opens every day of Advent another church in Württemberg their doors to an Advent Day of Action With the advent of the city Forchheim, the 24 doors formed by the main gate and 23 window of the half-timbered town hall. Behind the window shutters, which are opened by the yearly changing Christmas angels, Christmas motifs are hidden.
The North Frisian town Tonning has indicated that the longest Advent calendar in the world. The Advent spans the 77.5 m length of the building and the entire height of the listed old pack house, a former storage building on Eider Harbour. The calendar doors from 1 to 24 are illuminated with the respective day number.
In many parts of Austria, Germany and Switzerland, windows are adorned in the advent season, or are provided with a corresponding number for the day number and illuminated in the evening. In the lively Advent calendar, also called walk-on advent calendar, people meet every Advent day in front of another house with advent calendar windows. For this a window of the house is adventlich decorated. The Twenty-Fourth Door illustrates the meaning of an Advent calendar, namely, the attainment of Christmas Eve.
At the individual stations, Christmas songs and Christmas stories are told in front of or in the house. Culinary can also be offered. In many cases such encounters are held in ecumenical partnership between neighboring Catholic and Protestant communities. In Switzerland, this kind of advent calendar is called Advent calendar in the neighborhood and usually organized by a club or a group of people, and more rarely by a church.