Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Traditions of Christmas - Advent Calenders

Domplatz Advent Calender - Sellmer
Advent Calenders, marking the days between the first day of Advent and Christmas Eve, are a Lutheran religious tradition that has found its way into the secular celebration of Christmas. Each day a window in the calender is opened to reveal a saying, a Christmas symbol or on more elaborate calenders chocolates or games. According to this delightful website - gloriously and badly translated from German into English - the first known calender was created in 1851. The tradition fell by the wayside during the Second World War and was revived after 1946. The website has a great display of historic calenders including a rather charming White House calender from the '50s.

The first few years we were together Laurent and I always had an Advent Calender in the house. I don't remember how the tradition started but I think we may have found a Sellmer Calender in a Horchow catalogue, when the luxury mail order house was still family run and had novel items. We continued the tradition for many years but over the past five or six it has fallen by the wayside.

This year we're reviving the tradition of opening a window each day on a unique Advent Calender. Our friend Larry has created his version of an Advent Calender on his blog, AmoRoma. Each day Larry posts a photo of a window here in Rome with a writing appropriate to the Advent season. I've posted a sidebar link to Larry's Advent Calender for anyone who'd like to join us in this tradition.

5 decembre - San Guilio


Anonymous said...


BigAssBelle said...

what a beautiful tradition to revive. i remember the advent calendars of my (lutheran) youth. the advent wreaths as well. it is the traditions, i think, that are behind the occasional pull i feel to go back to church.

as a child, the advent calendars were the most exciting way to mark the season and added much to my anticipation of christmas. i'm happy that the two of you are reviving this sweet tradition. and thanks for the link.

Elizabeth said...

Totally love the windows-in-Rome advent calendar. Beautiful, and I love having the text too. The advent calendars we had when I was a kid only had tacky pictures of elves or candy under each numbered window. It was fun to open the windows, but had no resonance. So thanks!

evilganome said...

This is a rather timely post. My absolute favorite student worker,(She's a Montrealer of course) gave our office an advent calendar. My 2 office mates and I take turns opening the windows.

It's not a tradition I grew up with, though I remember the lighting of the Advent candle in our little church, where it would burn down, each day demarcated.