of Advent Traditions
Although observed from as early as the 4th Century the rise in
popularity of the advent is fairly recent. It is primarily of
German origin. Advent is Latin for "coming towards"
(The Latin, "ad", means "towards" whereas
"ven/vent" is core of the Latin verb "veno",
meaning "come".). Advent refers to the days
approaching the coming of Christ to earth. More specifically, in
the German tradition, it refers to the 24 days immediately
preceding Christmas day, from December 1-24..
One of the most widely celebrated advent traditions is the
advent calendar. The Advent Calendar finds its origins in the
19th Century from the protestant area of Germany. Protestant
Christian families made a chalk line for every day in December
until Christmas Eve. Before long, commercial entrepreneurs
started replacing the ephemeral chalk lines with printed
calendars,. The first known Advent Calendar is for the advent of
Soon, other devices helped Germans and German immigrants to
America celebrate the advent. Towards the end of the nineteenth
century, the Adventclock or the Adventcandle - a candle for 24
days until Christmas - were found in many homes. The first
printed speciem was made by Gerhard Lang (1881 - 1974) who was a
Swabian parishioner from Maulbronn in Germany. When he was a
child his mother made him an Advent Calendar with 24 "Wibbele"
(little candies). Later Lang was a participator of the printing
office Reichhold & Lang where he published miniature colored
pictures which could be affixed on a cardboard at every day in
December. This was the first printed Advent Calendar, although
without windows to open, published in 1908.
The celebration of advent and the associated advent calendar
caught on like wildfire in the early decades of this century.
However, despite the great success of Lang's Advent Calendar, he
had to close his company in the 1930s due to World War II. This
same war ended this German practice in many homes and certainly
stopped the increase of this tradition.
The first printed speciem after the war were printed by
Richard Sellmer in 1946. Advent calendars continue to be printed
to this day.
In some homes, 24 candles are kept, one for each night from
December 1 through Christmas eve. One candle is lit for a while
on December 1, then a new candle is added each day for the 24
day period. However, for those homes using the candles, it was
far more common to have four candles for the four weeks before
Christmas. On candle was lit the first week, two the second week
and so on. The candles were often place on a wreath upon the
dining room table.
The practice of advent is celebrated primarily in the
German-speaking areas of Europe and especially in the protestant
German areas of the United States.