Advent Calendars: Why do we count down to Christmas with advent calendars and where do they come from?

While you’re opening a new window every day, think back to past traditions that led to us having advent calendars each year.

As we count down the days to Christmas throughout the month of December, many find it hard to reign in their excitement for the winter holiday.

Advent calendars are one way that we can mete out that anticipation throughout the month.

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There are so many different types nowadays, from classic chocolate ones or simple picture windows to enormous beauty or alcohol calendars.

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Although many of us will whip out our calendars year after year, the story behind why we do it isn’t one all of us know.

Here’s where the tradition of advent calendars started and why we still celebrate them today.

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Where did advent calendars originate from?

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Discover why we practice one of the longest-standing Christmas traditions: advent calendars. Photo: maria_esua / Getty Images / Canva Pro.

As with many Christmas traditions, the roots of advent calendars can be found in Germany.

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From around the early nineteenth Century, German Protestant began to mark the days of Advent by burning candles or marking walls and doors with a line of chalk.

Back then, the days of Advent were the four Sundays preceding Christmas Day.

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That means that Advent would often begin before December started, unlike most modern-day calendars.

The practice of hanging daily images led to the creation of the first advent calendar that’s close to what we use today.

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Made in 1851, this first calendar was handmade from wood.

The first printed calendars followed in 1902, with doors being added to obscure the images in the 1920s.

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Since then, advent calendars have progressed from merely containing pictures to containing mini-gifts, such as chocolates, beauty products, alcohol, and more.

Why do we count down to Christmas with advent calendars?

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The main reason we have advent calendars is simply to count down to Christmas.

As a traditional Christian and Catholic holiday, it used to be one of the most important holidays to Protestants and particularly German Lutheran Christians.

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This group started the tradition of advent calendars, so it makes sense they would want to count down to their most favoured holiday.

German Christians were also partly responsible for another favourite Christmas tradition: Christmas trees.



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