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The History of the Advent Calendar

Updated on December 10, 2011

Almost all children, at some point in the lives, have or have seen the advent calendar with little windows or doors to open to countdown to Christmas. Some have chocolate rewards when you open the door. Some have a poem. but it is part of the Christmas tradition, like the Christmas tree we got from Germany.

The advent calendar, as it is called, was created by Gerhard Lang. He got the idea in the late 1900s from his mom when she baked 24 meringue pastries and attached them to a carton. Each day, he could open one, starting in late November. His first creation appeared in 1903. But it was not until 1920 did Lang create the still used perforated door style. For some reason, he did not obtain a patent and others began to mimic his creation. Many of the Advent calendars in the WW1 and post WW1 era were militaristic and as Hitler came to power, promoted the swastika, or children dressed in Hitler Youth uniforms etc.

Up to 1945, Advent calendars in the USA were almost non-existent. As US GI's sent home the German advent calendar to their kids, they became popular with English translations. It was not until 1953 did they become popular when Newsweek magazine published a photo of then President Eisenhower with his grandkids holding advent calendars. Suddenly, Americans wanted the calendar each year at Christmas time.

Since 1953, the calendars are popular worldwide and in most cultures with their own native spin and language. As products are made in lesser Third world countries, Western culture permeates into their culture-even in China, which in the 1980's, was a devout Communist country.

Germany gave the world the highway system (autobahn), Christmas trees, Advent calendar, and the economy cars, the VW Beetle, the best chocolate. I could go on.....and on......and on.


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