The History of Advent Calendars

For children and adults alike, Christmas is a special time of year. The air is fresh and crisp, and scents of cinnamon and mulled wine fill the air. And of course, we all look forward to unwrapping our presents!

Across the UK, a large part of the Christmas excitement is opening the doors on advent calendars – counting down the 24 days to Christmas day. So where did advent calendars actually come from? In this article, we'll be having a look at their history.

Counting down to Christmas can be traced back to 19th century when protestant families would draw a chalk mark or line on their door for every day leading up to Christmas. This then developed into the advent calendar we know today, which was originally drawn out by hand.

Honourable mentions for early advent calendars include the advent candle, which some people still use today, in which part of the candle is burnt down for each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas. And how could we forget the advent clock, in which 24 candles are placed on a structure, then one is burnt per day.

An advent calendar from 1903As we mentioned previously, early advent calendars were hand drawn and painted. Records of this go back to 1851. However the advent calendars we know today are printed in bulk, the act of printing advent calendars goes back 1903 when an Austrian bookshop sold what is thought to be the first ever printed advent calendar. A year later in 1904, a newspaper inserted these calendars as a gift to their readers, bringing the advent calendar into the mainstream. After World War II the advent calendar was spread across Europe and that's how we got the calendar we know and love today.

In the 21st century, the advent calendar has changed dramatically. Calendars now rarely contain a simple picture, but small chocolates for each of the 24 days. And calendars are even available as promotional products! Having a batch of these with your company branding printed on the front would be perfect for a Christmas gift!

Many alternative advent calendars are available, including website based calendars and video calendars, such as the Total Merchandise 2015 Advent Calendar Campaign. If you haven't heard about it yet, the Total Merchandise Advent Calendar features 25 videos, with prizes every day! Have a look at our YouTube channel and make sure to subscribe for reminders every time one is posted.

Written by

Total Merchandise | Editoral Team

Our editorial team is drawn from a pool of experienced promotional merchandise product team members, account managers, marketers and other contributors. With such a wide range of skills and experience, they write about many aspects of promotional merchandise, wider marketing and business matters, as well as company news updates.

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