Is it Christmas, yet! Counting down the days until “the day” can be hard for some, but using an Advent Calendar can make each day, one of anticipation and delight.
You don’t have to be a little kid to get excited about the coming of Christmas, nor do you have to be a Christian to celebrate the holiday. The birth of Jesus Christ (Christmas Day) is one of the two most important dates observed by Christians around the world; Easter, which honors the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, is the other. However, people of other faiths or those without religious affiliations at all, can still find themselves getting into the Christmas Spirit and the gift-giving tradition.
Growing up, I don’t recall my family using an Advent Calendar to mark the days leading up to Christmas. As a parent, I introduced the activity to my children, as a way to help them curb their anticipation of the arrival of “Santa Clause.” I bought one each year when they were young, usually the cardboard version with chocolate candies behind each little window.
Although I am a Christian, I didn’t fully understand the traditions associated with the calendar. It wasn’t until my kids were grown, that I gave it more attention and understanding. I look forward to having one for myself this year — simple numbered envelopes in a cheerful basket by my bed, for me I think. But instead of a sweet treat to find, I will unfold little notes of inspirational quotes, kind acts to pass on and Bible verses I picked out for myself, all to encourage positive thinking from myself throughout December and the coming New Year… And, perhaps a few sweet treats to enjoy while I reflect on the blessings I have been given.
According to Christianity.com, “The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1).”
The modern observance of Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. This year, 2018, it begins on Sunday, December 2 and ends on Monday, December 24. At which time, the new Christian year begins with the twelve-day celebration of Christmastide, which lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6.
“The origin of the Advent Calendar can be traced back to the 19th. Century. The first styles came from the protestant area. So religious families made a chalk line for every day in December until Christmas Eve. The first known Advent Calendar, which was made by handwork, is from the year 1851.” explains Richard Sellmer Verlag on his website featuring artistic traditional paper calendars available for purchase.
If you are considering introducing an Advent Calendar to your family this year, or carrying on a tradition you are already familiar with, why not put a little of your own personality in your version and fill the windows with what is important to you. Several suggestions for treats include Bible verses, quotes of encouragement, candy, small toys, random acts of kindness, an activity you want to do, or a place you want to visit; whatever gives you and your family happiness, will work.
If you’re interested in learning more about the tradition of Advent Calendars, there are many places on the web to research. A few of the sites I discovered are: Christianity.com — WhyChristmas.com — MentalFloss.com — GotQuestions.com.
There really is no limit to what type of Advent Calendar you can choose. Search the internet for versions that reflect your style and get crafting, December 2 is fast approaching. If you decide to purchase a ready-made calendar, there are plenty out there, too. Need a little quick help, check out the selections I came across.
Whichever design catches your eye or suits your needs, I hope you enjoy the countdown to Christmas. Until next post…
Feature Photo: Vintage Advent Calendar from Traditional Advent Calendars