Did you ever play with those paper advent calendars as a kid? I used to love those things. Opening each door between December 1 – 24 until Christmas arrived. And no, I never cheated and looked at more than one hidden picture at a time. 😉 I actually like surprises.
When my children were young, I invested in a wooden advent calendar. We would hang it on the wall, and each day, the kids and I would open a door, take out the nativity character and hang it on it’s tiny hook to build the scene. We used that for years. I even added my own scripture verses into the doors when the kids got older, so we would read the story as well over the days leading up to Christmas. Then about 5 years ago, it broke. So sad. I miss it.
The tradition of advent calendars started in the 19th century. They trace back to the German Lutherans who would often count down the days by marking a doorpost with a chalk line for every day of December. Some families would light candles while others would hang a religious picture on the wall each day.
Gerhard Lang is credited with inventing today’s version of the Advent calendar, when the firm for which he was a printer for in 1908, made 24 little colored pictures that could be affixed to a piece of cardboard.
Years later, he came up with the idea of the 24 little doors, for which he created and sold at least 30 designs, until his business closed shop in the 1930s. During that time, another company had started producing Advent calendars with Bible verses behind the closed doors.
This gave way to the modern version that we know today, where 24 doors, are closed and one is opened each day to reveal the number of days left until Christmas Eve. Some have the numbers in descending order, to count down the days. (Historical information taken from this article.)
Since today is December 1, I thought I would share some free ways for you to celebrate the advent calendar idea with a modern twist.
Here is a free app that will play a different classical Christmas song each day. You can find it in the app store under “Musical Advent Calendar.”
When you are killing time browsing online, check out this online Advent calendar. They give you a devotional thought and fun little quizzes and historical tidbits. It gives a nice variety. And for those who like to look ahead, you can actually click on whichever date you like with no penalty. Ha!
Finally, I use the YouVersion Bible app on my phone, and they have several reading plans available for the Advent season. I have chosen to download the Good News of Great Joy reading plan. The devotionals are not afraid to challenge and push me to greater faith during this holiday season. You can also download it for free on the Desiring God website.
- What is your favorite way to anticipate the season of Jesus’ birth?