Advent: a coming into place or being; an arrival; the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting.
The ubiquitous Advent Calendar. Run down to your local store (any one will do) this time of year and you will find racks with Advent Calendars of every size, shape and nearly every popular “character”. Stores decorate with them and the internet is full of the latest “do at home” design. So where did the Advent Calendar filled with goodies come from?
As stated in the definition above, the season of Advent was observed as a period of four weeks starting on the Sunday closest to November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and continued for an additional three Sundays. This was a time of preparation for early Christian converts to prepare for baptism. It is quite possible that this tradition started somewhere around the 4th century. At the time Rome became a Christian state the date of Christ’s birth was set at December 25 and the Advent Calendar observed that date, starting on December 1 and continuing until December 24. The Advent Calendar itself and does not directly tie into the four weeks of Advent.
It is believed that the Advent Calendar started as painted chalk marks in Germany and other European countries. Families would paint or mark a chalk line on a door of their house to count the 24 days from December 1 to Christmas Day. Some families would hang up small pictures or light candles to mark the days. The actual Advent Calendar as we know it today is attributed to Gerhard Lang of Germany. Historians tell us that in 1908 Mr. Lang fashioned a cardboard Calendar with 24 candies attached to it inspired by the Calendars his mother made him as a boy with pictures attached to a piece of cardboard counting the days to December 25.
While the Advent Calendars we see today often reflects secular themes, many of the Calendars produced in the early 1900s contained religious pictures or Bible verses. A number of years after he produced his first calendar, called “Christmas-Calendar”, Gerhard Lang added smalls doors to open revealing a candy or picture behind. This new design became the staple of Christmas (Advent) Calendars ever since.
In the context of Christmas, Advent means to think about or meditate on the birth of the Christ child as a baby and to anticipate and prepare for His return. It is an invitation to spend the days and weeks before Christmas in joyful anticipation, watching and praying and preparing for what is to come.
The LORD is coming out of His place.
He will come down and walk on the earth.
The Son of Man will come in a cloud
with power and great glory.
Look up! Your redemption draws near.
Micah 1.3; Luke 21.27-28