Monthly Archives: December 2017

2. Advent – The Adventskalender (Advent Calendar)

… dann zwei…

2. Advent

One of our favourite Advent traditions is the Advent calendar. There are different calendars used around the world, although these days the most popular ones are cardboard calendars with 24 doors. One door is opened every day in December leading up to Christmas. Behind each door is a picture and often a Christmas-themed chocolate, such as a chocolate Christmas tree or Santa Claus.

In the early 1800s it was common to mark 24 chalk lines on your door and rub off one every day leading up to Christmas. It was around 50 years later that the first paper calendars were made, but they didn’t soar in popularity until the early 1900s. Although there is much debate about where in the world these paper calendars first appeared, one thing is certain – the first ones were mass-produced in Germany in the early 1900s (although production stopped during World War II due to a shortage of cardboard).

Initially, these cardboard calendars featured pictures from the Christmas story. Later, calendars filled with small toys and chocolate were introduced. The first calendar with chocolate in it was produced in 1958, although they didn’t become popular with the masses until the 1980s.

Today, there are many types of Advent calendars. One particularly popular trend in Germany is using a wreath of fir with 24 boxes or bags hanging from it: each bag or box is filled with a little gift. Advent calendars have become a big trend, with calendars available featuring different products such as perfume, makeup, chocolate, beauty products, toys – you can even get an Advent calendar for you dog or cat filled with treats for them!

Did you know…? The sparkly diamond advent calendar below has gone down in the Guiness Book of World Records as the most expensive Advent calendar in the world – valued at €2.5m. It was created by a Belgian jeweller, featuring jewellery designed by Frankfurt-based jeweller Biegel Schmuckdesign.

Wishing you all a lovely third Advent.

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Happy Nikolaustag

On the evening of the 5th of December, children (and some adults!) in Germany put their shoe or boot out at night (their Nikolausstiefel). When they wake up the next morning their shoe or boot is filled with treats – usually chocolate, fruits and nuts, and sometimes small toys.

… But what is the story behind this?

The 6th of December is a day where Saint Nikolaus is celebrated. St. Nikolaus is the one who fills the children’s boots with gifts and sweets overnight, although if the children have been naughty, rather than nice, they may find a Rute (a stick) in their boot.

Saint Nikolaus, born Nikolaus of Myra, lived in Turkey around the year 270 to sometime in the mid-300s. There are few documented facts about his life, and most of the stories about it are legends that have been passed on from generation to generation. In general, these legends all told of one thing: tales of how Saint Nikolaus gave the poor his wealth.

One story says that Nikolaus’ parents died when he was very young, and he inherited gold, silver, precious gems, palaces and big properties, as well as many animals, such as sheep, horses and donkeys. However, he wasn’t happy. One day he left the palace and walked down the street where he saw a beggar, Nikolaus went to reach into his pocket to give him something, but realised that his rich clothing didn’t have any pockets. So Nikolaus took off his biggest gold chain and ring and gave it to the beggar. He returned back to the palace later that day feeling happy for the first time in a long time and immediately requested that all of his clothes be fitted with large pockets. The next day he filled up his large pockets with nuts, apples and mandarins and walked through the streets to distribute these to the poor. Again, he returned home joyful. So he continued doing this for many days. A few years later when he was a teenager he decided to leave the palace behind and ride throughout the whole country and give his wealth to the poor. He eventually returned to Myra after giving away most of his wealth, but every year on his birthday, the 6th of December, he would ride through the street and give mandarins, apples, nuts and cake to the poor.

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1. Advent: Advent – The Origins

Advent, Advent, ein Lichtlein brennt…

Adventskranz 1. Advent

Advent is the four-week period leading up to Christmas and is celebrated on the four Sundays.

Did you know…? Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. The Advent period is the ‘coming’ of Jesus into the world.

Nobody really knows where Advent first came from, but it dates back to at least 567 when monks were ordered to fast in the period leading up to Christmas. Some people (very few) keep up this tradition and fast during these four weeks in order to prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus.

In medieval times in some parts of England, there were early forms of nativity scenes, often referred to as ‘advent images’ which were often displayed in small wooden boxes – they generally featured two small dolls: one representing Mary and one representing the baby Jesus. These boxes were often decorated with flowers and ribbons and were carried from door to door. It was actually considered as unlucky if you hadn’t seen one of these boxes before Christmas Eve!

Nowadays, there are several ways in which Advent is counted down, but the most common way is a calendar or candles… but more about those in the next two weeks!

We wish you all a wonderful first Advent.

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