What is an Advent Calendar?

Have you heard or seen an Advent Calendar? What is it? What does it mean? 

The word “Advent” means the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. For this time of year, the notable event would be Christmas day, December 25th. This year Advent started on Sunday, December 3rd and will end on December 24th, Christmas Eve.

The tradition dates back to the mid-19th century when German Protestants made chalk marks on doors or lit candles to count the days leading up to Christmas.

Advent Traditions

Traditional Advent calendars feature the manger scene, Santa Claus or festive winter scenes. They come in a multitude of styles from a simple paper calendar with flaps covering each of the days to fabric pockets on a background scene to painted wooden boxes with cubby holes for small items such as candy or toys.

The numbered doors are opened every day leading up to Christmas, beginning with the start of Advent. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, a poem, a portion of a story or a small gift, such as a toy or a candy item. Advent calendars may also have puzzles and games printed on their reverse side.

It’s also a great way to teach patience to anxious children as they count down the days to Christmas. Most children adore receiving one at the beginning of December because it gets them excited for Santa coming and every surprise that they open on the way is a promise of what’s to come.

A Reverse Advent Calendar?

Through social media, you may have heard the concept of a Reverse Advent Calendar.

A Reverse Advent Calendar works the same where it counts the days until a specific event but instead of getting a little treat, you collect items to donate to a charity or family in need. This time of year is the biggest charity giving and donation collecting time of year. It’s also important as we move into the colder winter months, to collect coats and warm clothing for those in need.

Items to Collect for Charity

  • Canned goods and non-perishable food
  • Gloves, mittens, scarfs, hats
  • New socks and underwear
  • New or gently used clothing
  • New or gently used shoes
  • Toiletries
  • Blankets
  • Toys
  • Gas gift cards
  • Cash

After gathering helpful items during Advent, take the donation collection to a shelter or charity of your choice.

Not only is this a fun thing for the whole family to do together, you’re teaching your children importance of helping others.

It’s always a great feeling to know that you’ve helped someone else in their time of need!