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Advent calendar story

The Advent season (in Latin “adventus” means arrival) is meant to be a time of mental and spiritual preparation for the greatest Christian holiday of the year, the birth of Jesus on the night of December 24th.

From the early nineteenth century German Protestants began to mark the days of Advent by burning a candle for the day or marking walls or doors with a line of chalk each day.

While the Catholic Church celebrates the Advent with daily prayers in this time, in Protestan families is time of devotions and contemplation within the family.  The Bible is read aloud, verses are recited, people pray together and sing devotional songs.


The Christmas clocks was another creative way to mark the Advent season.  It was a round face divided into 12 to 24 segments, on which the hands could be moved one step further each day.

Each segment was adorned with songs, texts, or Bible verses.  The first clock calendar were produced in Hamburg in 1902 and were released by the publisher of an evangelical book store Friedrich Tümpler.


In Scandinavia the custom was to divide a candle into 24 segments and let it burn down segment by segment over 24 days’ time.


Another practice of Advent season was hanging devotional wooden images every day.  Maybe this led to the creation of the first known hand made wooden Advent calendar in 1851.


Another custom to highlight and maybe it is the definitive is Gerhard Lang’s mother custom.  For every day of the Advent season, she leaved over a piece of cardboard some sweets for her son.

Lang did associate with his friend Reichhold and together started up a printing press. In 1908 they started to print the first calendars with Lang’s innovation of adding small doors.  He is often seen as the creator of the modern calendar.

Richard & Lang Publisher printed a large numbers of Advent calendars and sold these in the following years in increasingly high numbers and in a variety of types, including a version with Braille.


He developed new variations of calendars, the one that could fill with chocolates, the one that had to break open in order to get the contents, and others with doors to be opened.  His calendars stand out because of their high quality and attention to detail (as we do the same here at our Vintage Advent Calendars Collection).

But after few years after his larger print runs, other publishers started the printing of calendars too.


As it always happens, Lange was no longer able to withstand the price pressure and had to stop printing them in 1940.  It was shortly before the outbreak of war that carboard and paper was rationed in Germany.

At the beginning of 1940s, the printing of illustrated calendars was stopped because it was considered “unimportant to the war effort”.  The church media was forbidden and instead the National Socialist German Workers’ Party printed its own national socialist calendar and distributed it among citizens.

The goal was the reinterpretation of the Advent season.  All church related and religious elements were removed and replaced with symbols of the new ideology, with reference to supposedly Germanic roots, like this:  Advent wreath became the Solstice wreath, the Christ child became the “child of light”, the term “advent” were replaced by the german Word “vorweihnachten” (pre-Christmas), Saint Nikolaus was replaced by the Rider on the White Horse, which was associated with the god Wotan.

Fortunately the Advent calendars were printed again in 1945.  There was an urge to return to Christian values and to old traditions too.


Advent calendars became established throughout the German speaking world in the 1930s, including Austria and Switzerland.  It became widespread in Great Britain and the United States.  Today there are printed by the millions in Germany, and more than a half of them are exported for sale abroad.


Over time the shape, type and appearance of calendars has changed, but its aim is to be a way of measuring the days until Christmas Eve, to demonstrate the remaining time to children and highlight the special holiday atmosphere of Advent season.


At “El Castillo de Ana”, we make our Advent calendars all by hand, using high quality materials to get an original, creative and vintage product, so our customers can enjoy the design that make us remember our childhood recollections.  We also have calendars with short Bible verses to be read each day until Christmas day. (take a look to the Christmas section)


All of our Advent calendars can be used year after year, so you can save costs and the most important thing, it takes care of the environment, because it is made of noble materials, cardboard and paper, that you can reuse or recycle.  We always look forward to minimize our footprint.  elcastillodeana


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