Celebrating Advent: How to Get the Whole Family Involved

I think the best way to get your family on board with the celebration of Advent is to get an Advent wreath and Advent calendar for your home. Having the calendar in your house is a great way to get kids excited for Advent. Each day a child can open a new window on the calendar and receive a piece of chocolate. The wreath is the more religious of the two, and hopefully if your kids get excited for the calendar you can carry that over for the wreath as well.

If you want to learn about everything involved in having a nice Advent wreath at your house check out this post called, “Reviving Advent” that I found recently. The article goes into how to make your Advent wreath, blessing the Advent wreath, lighting the Advent wreath, and even gives you some ideas for daily Scripture readings that you can use.

How do you celebrate Advent at your home?

The World’s Best Advent Calendar: Promoting the Work of a Hospital

Every year at home we have some sort of Advent calendar in the house. There have been some homemade ones and some fancier ones that I bought throughout the years, but overall the main idea is just the tradition of having one. I read a pretty awesome story today though about an Advent calendar that is definitely better than any of the ones I have ever had.

A bunch of people who support the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem are teaming up to make an internet Advent calendar this year. The purpose is to encourage people all over the world to learn more about the staff and patients of the hospital. This hospital is apparently located only 500 yards away from what is traditionally considered the birth spot of Jesus Christ.

The group will launch the site within the first few days of December, and it will feature a different video, blog post, picture, or some other form of information every day. They just want to raise awareness for a very important hospital who saves many lives every year.

To learn more about the Advent calendar read this story: Advent Calendar to Promote Work of Bethlehem Hospital

The origin of the Advent Calendar

As per tradition, every year my mom buys me an advent calendar.  They’re always different, yet contain equally ridiculous themes: “Christmas Around the World,”  “Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Santa’s Workshop,”  etc.  When I was younger I only cared for advent calendars because it meant a guaranteed chocolate each day.  As I got older I more or less dismissed the calendar, and it came to be just another silly way mom showed her love.

But this year, as I prepare for yet another random calendar, I find myself pondering over the origin of the calendar.  Where and when was the advent calendar invented, and why do we need a paper calendar with perforated lines around each day; why can’t we just remember the date in our heads?

Well, according to an article on holidays.net that mycatholicblog found here, the tradition of the Advent calendar is explained as such:

The term Advent comes from the Latin “adventur”, meaning arrival.The tradition of marking the Advent dates back to the early 19th century, when when religious Protestant families made a chalk line on their front door for every day in December until Christmas Eve. According to Sellmer-Verlag, the Dutch on-line museum of Advent Calendar history, the first Advent Calendar was handmade in 1851. Early Advent styles also included the Advent Candle, in which a ring or wreath of 24 candles would be used to illuminate each day until Christmas.

Sellmer-Verlag, the Dutch on-line museum of Advent Calendar history, cites the German-born Gerhard Lang as the inventor of the first mass-produced Advent Calendar. Lang was inspired by the calendars he remembered his mother making for him as a child. She would attach a candy to a hand-drawn cardboard calendar. Instead of candies, Lang’s printed version featured tiny pictures that could be affixed to each day of the Advent. Lang later produced several different versions of the calendar, including ones with little doors to open, revealing a picture for each day.

The German printing company Sankt Johannis capitalized on Lang’s idea, producing calendars with Bible verses instead of pictures behind each window. The Advent Calendar became increasingly popular in Germany and throughout Central Europe until World War II, when manufacturers were forced to shut down production due to the war rationing on cardboard.

By the 1940s, the tradition of the Advent Calendar had jumped the Atlantic Ocean and taken root in American culture. Here, the first chocolate-filled calendars were sold in the late 1950s.

Still, I’ve come to realize that despite the theme of the particular advent calendar, the most important factor is that all advent calendars put just a bit more emphasis the upcoming day of December 25th.  Ultimately, it’s up to all of us to remember the true meaning of the holiday, and why Christmas is celebrated.  But hey, if we can do that and eat some chocolate, why not!