Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Christmas / Advent Calendar

When we first moved here in Germany in 2009, the Christmas calendar is among the gift-giving traditions that I look forward to. And it is very interesting to learn along the way how this very romantic idea of a calendar to make waiting for Christmas day to arrive a little bit easier turned out to be a million industry.

Everything started very simply: with pictures and texts. It was in 1903 when most probably the first Advent calendar was designed, by the Munich publisher Gerhard Lang. The calendar was inspired by his mother, who made him a calendar made from 24 cookies when he was still a child. Every day a cookie for the little Gerhard, which made waiting for Christmas day to come a little bit easier.

Even before the published calendar, this counting tradition is already practiced by many German families - for example chalk marks on the wall or the door to count off the days. But then of course, colorful pictures and beautiful texts are more interesting. Lang's calender with the title "Im Lande des Christkinds" (In the Land of the Christ Child) is a kaleidoscope of various motifs of the kinder world. After the premiere in 1903, new versions were published every year. 

Because children love sweet things, the publisher soon had another idea: Christmas / advent calendar with chocolate. It was in 1920 when the first calendar was published, just like the typical calendar we have today: with 24 small doors to open. It was an optimal idea, because people love beautiful surprises. Clubs and parents in other areas then started designing their own calendar.

It was in 1945, after the second world war, when other countries and even the industry found the idea interesting. Famous artists designed calendars - there is the classic with the chocolate and slowly in more and more variants.

Today, there are all sorts of Christmas calendar available in the market - for all ages and for a wide range of products. There are calendars with chips, seasoning, gin, fragrance, make-up tea, coffee, even Lego and Playmobil - there is a calendar to almost every product that one can purchase. It has become a million-business. 

But do we really need all this? I personally love the chocolate bit, one for each day. But with all the products being sold out today, I think it has already lost its essence and meaning. The happiness that opening one door brings has maybe become superficial. Despite the massive commercialization, may we never lost touch of the true meaning of Christmas.

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