One of the most anticipated Christmas traditions every year has to be the Adventskalender or Advent-Calendar. Choosing just the right one, is of the most important things for children as it marks the beginning of the Christmas season for them. We have all heard at least one horror story from our families, of having to run out to get another Advent Calendar at the last minute because one of the youngsters decided to plunder it early, eating it all at once and stores are virtually sold out everywhere after the first of Advent (the fourth Sunday before Christmas).

Today, you can buy a calendar at any store, and sales start as early as late October to mid-November and the selection is quite large. Toy and Grocery stores are well stacked with the latest editions will feature anything your Christmas heart may desire, ranging from chocolates, to small toys and even little surprises in the form of small ornaments. There are even special store edition calendars with gift certificates or samples of makeup, or other products. Many popular brands release their own edition of calendars, that are made especially for kids, or boys and girls, like Lego and Barbie. There are even novelty ones made for adults stuffed with alcohol, beer or X-rated surprises.

Some families prefer to craft their own Advent Calendars by making little pouches, filling small boxes, or purchasing empty pre-made calendars to fill on their own.

The tradition of having special calendars to countdown to Christmas can be dated all the way back to the 1850’s, where families decorated the walls of their home with 24 pictures, hanging one every day until Christmas eve. Some families had the children of the home add a piece of straw to the manager of the little Jesus in the Nativity set, or erase chalk marks on the wall until all 24 marks were gone.

The first printed advent calendars appeared in the early 1900’s, with cut out pictures that had to be added on a calendar-sheet. Then, later on, the traditional calendars we see today, with the little doors that open to expose a small picture or Christmas scene came into play. After the 1950’s the calendars started featuring the widely known chocolate surprises behind these little doors and some even added small toy surprises. The Advent Calendar has even made it to America and Asia over the last few decades, becoming a part of Christmas festivities everywhere and now there are even Easter versions.

Have you ever wondered why these calendars only have 24 doors and not 25? Well, in Germany Christmas starts on the evening of the 24th, or Christmas eve, as this is when the Christkind delivers the presents—not on the 25th of December, Christmas morning, like back in the United States. So, the last and biggest door is reserved for the morning of that day.