Origin of the Advent Calendar
The Advent Calendar has been around for more than 150 years and
becomes more popular every year.
The origin of the calendar, like so many of our Christmas traditions, started in Germany back in the 19th century. The first styles came from the protestant area. Different methods of counting down the days to the celebration of Christmas were used. Drawing a chalk line to mark off the days, later lighting a candle every night or putting up small religious pictures marked each day until Christmas.
In 1902, a Christian Bookshop in Hamburg published a Christmas Clock which was very similar to that published in 1922 by the St. Johannis printing company. (Dominik Wunderlin, lic.phil. Swizzerland). The Austrian (NÖ) Landesmuseum is giving the year 1903 as the year of the first printed Advent Calendar. In 1904 an Advent Calendar was inserted in the newspaper "Neues Tagblatt Stuttgart" as a gift for their readers
Others attribute the first Advent Calendar as we have come to know, dating in 1908 by Gerhard Lang, from handwork in 1851. This Calendar was named "Christmas-Calendar" or "Munich Christmas-Calendar". Lang, (born 1881, in Maulbronn, Germany -died in 1974), when a child, his mother made him an Advent Calendar with 24 "Wibbele" (little candies), which were stuck on cardboard. Later Lang participated in the printing office of Reichhold & Lang. He produced little colored pictures which could be affixed on cardboard for every day in December. His first (printed) calendar consisted of miniature colored pictures that would be attached to a piece of cardboard each day in December, although without windows to open. In the early part of the 20th century, Lang produced the first Advent Calendars with little doors to open. At this time as well, the Sankt Johannis Printing Company started producing religious Advent Calendars, with Bible Verses instead of pictures behind the doors.
The Advent Calendar started a triumphal way around the globe. But Lang had to close his company in the thirties. Until that time he had produced about 30 different designs.
Other early styles were the Advent Clock or the Advent Candle - a candle for each of the 24 days until Christmas, like today’s Advent Wreath. So in religious families, little pictures were hung on the wall, one for each day in December. Another tradition was to paint chalk strokes on the door, one per day until Christmas Eve. Later Advent Calendars were made with little doors to open on each day. The child might find a small piece of candy, a Christmas picture, a religious picture or a bible verse.
These calendars were very popular until World War II when production was stopped, due to the war shortages. World War II terminated the success of this German tradition when cardboard was rationed and it was forbidden to produce calendars with pictures.
After the war, the production of calendars resumed in 1946 by Richard Sellmer, and their popularity continues to grow every year. His company still produces calendars today and can be ordered online. Sellmer credits President Eisenhower with helping to grow the tradition in the United States during his term of office. Selmer was titled as The Secretary General of Father Christmas, during the Eisenhower administration.
A newspaper article at the time showed the Eisenhower grandchildren with ‘The Little Town Advent Calendar’.
President Richard Nixon continued to promote the uniqueness of the Advent Calendar in the United States during his tenure.
In researching this work and to my delight, the small pictures to follow here are those I distinctly recognize from my childhood during the late 50’s and 60’s.
Our mother used to hang these calendars for the three of us ‘kidlits’ (little kids), to enjoy and to take turn opening the little windows each day. To my absolute joy, these same calendars and many others are still available as reprints, by the same company (Richard Sellmer Verlag), which produced them originally.
To the best of our knowledge, we were the first site in 1998, to ever to post an online Advent Calendar and are 2012 was our 12th year and final year.
To visit their site and order old and new advent calendars, click the purple image above or go to:
Visit them and start your own new tradition at:
(the link above is outside this web site, but
we are neither affiliates nor derive any income from them)
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