I mean, we all like chocolate but why do we get a little bit each day for 25 days? The answer lies back in the 19th century. It’s believed that the idea for advent calendars orginated when protestant families would traditionally draw a chalk line every day of the month until Christmas Eve, for religious reasons as much as it was a way of counting down the days. The first actual calendar was created in Germany in 1851 and was hand made. At this time, people would also light advent candles and place advent wreaths in their homes. This calendar was hand made but the first printed version arrived 57 years later in 1908 in Germany courtsey of publisher Gerhard Lanf. The new phenomenon later spread to the rest of Europe and also North America. It still looked different from the calendars we have today for two reasons, no doors and no chocolate. World War II then sort of got in the way as cardboard was rationed meaning no advent calendars! Thankfully, the tradition made a comeback after the war with the new doors having festive images or Bible verses hidden behind them. Chocoholics rejoiced in 1958 when the first chocolate calendars were sold. Today, all manner of items can be found hidden behind the doors from make up to cheese but there’s still something lovely about being greeted with a nice christmassy image every day.
Discover more amazing history in issue 93 of How It Works, on sale now!
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