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Thursday, December 17, 2009

German Christmas Traditions: Advent Kalendar

In my family, Christmas is the time we celebrate our German heritage the most.
I have German traditions boiling out of my ears.

Everything starts with this.....

Our Advent Kalendar.
Translation: Advent Calender

Got it.

The one you see above is actually one of my brothers....that I sorta, we'll just say borrowed, without the intention of giving it back. :)
As you might imagine, it's very old and has seen many Decembers.
The number five didn't agree with something one and four said and skipped town. String is missing from one or more of the little booties. Yet, I can't help feeling tied to this burlap candy holder.

The Advent Calendar has been transformed a little through the ages and has turned slightly modernized, including chocolates for the anxious recipients. Originally, it began with a simple countdown as you put a chalk mark on the door. Eventually, it grew into lighting candless (I'll do a post on the Advent Wreath as well). At the turn of the century the calendar came in printed form, with a picture for each day (instead of a chocolate). Gerhard Lang, who first started printing them, must have decided that it would be wonderful to make it a surprise and added little doors for the pictures to hide behind. (All information was found here.)

You'll probably see design more like this when you go to the grocery store.
I'm not sure when we started using these in place of our ragged countdown, but eventually we succumbed to commercialism. I, however, like picking out which treats I'm going to get instead.

Have any of you ever seen "A Christmas Calendar" with Loretta Swit on the PBS channel?
If you haven't I'm not surprised.
If you have, and you have a copy, I will pay you a gazillion dollars to have it.
Or you could make a copy and give it to me for Christmas.

In it she travels through Germany and gives wonderful explanations of German traditions using an Advent Calendar as the guide.
Because let's face it. If you're going to celebrate Christmas anywhere, it should definitely be Germany right?

I'll leave you with this picture of a life-size Advent in Sigmaringen, Germany. The pictures, I believe, were given by Elementary school children.

Do you use an Advent Calendar?
If you do what does it look like?
If not, what do you do to countdown to Christmas?


  1. Wow! I really didn't know this all was a German Tradition. We have ALWAYS had an advent calendar in our home. So fun with the candy and countdown. It's even more fun with a kid in the house, but... Jacob is too young to understand, but maybe next year. I seriously think it's AWESOME how much you love your heritage and how informed you are. I love it, I'm jealous, because I really don't know squat about mine. You've inspired me to research.


    Check this advent calendar out!! I love it! I might actually do this one. I love the idea of a magnet board being used for two different things.

  3. This was such a fun post. I love the stocking one you have. Also the lifesize one is amazing.


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