With the commercial holiday season starting in October, you likely don’t need an Advent calendar to remember that Christmas is coming. But since the 19th century, Christians have been finding different ways to embrace the coming of Christ. Advent calendars may now take on different meanings than they used to, but their simple roots and history make for an excellent reminder of why Christians used them in the first place: to celebrate the coming of Jesus.
Advent is the four-week period before Christmas, beginning on the Sunday closest to the Feast day of St. Andrew (nearest November 30) and ending on Christmas Eve. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival” and it is during this season that the Christian church prepares for the birth of Jesus. As it is a four-week “waiting” period, Advent symbolizes the spiritual journey of waiting that many individuals, families, and congregations experience.
From traditional candle and wreath calendars to Lego or chocolate calendars, there is no shortage of ways to symbolize the coming of Jesus. The first Advent calendar can be traced back to the 19thcentury; Lutherans in Germany used to mark the days leading up to Christmas with chalk tally marks or even light a candle each day. Some were known to hang up a new religious image each day as well. Though there is dispute on when the first printed Advent calendar was made, it is agreed upon that it is also a German tradition.
Most modern Advent calendars usually begin on December 1 and end on December 24, making it a Christmas countdown. And though many argue that modern Advent calendars such as this Lego City one lack any sort of religious connotation, there are plenty of ways that you can celebrate Advent in a spiritual way and still have fun.
This Advent season, sign up for Anglican Communion’s Global Advent Calendar and join millions across the globe celebrating Advent. It's an excellent way to engage with people all over the world as you wait with joy and love in your heart for the coming of Christ.