Advent calendars have evolved over the last century, to become a delightful and much-anticipated part of the festive season for people of all ages.
The Advent calendar, as we know it today, has its origins in 19th-century Germany. However, its invention cannot be attributed to a single individual. Instead, the concept was developed over time as a combination of various traditions and practices.
One of the earliest forms of Advent calendars was a chalk line or a mark made on a door or wall to count down the days until Christmas. This practice allowed religious families to symbolically approach the celebration of Christ's birth. Eventually, this evolved into the idea of having small doors or windows that could be opened each day to reveal a hidden image, verse, or small gift.
The first printed paper advent calendars with doors that could be opened began to appear in Germany in the early 20th century. These early picture Advent calendars often featured religious imagery and verses related to the Advent season.
Richard Sellmer - a German printer and publisher who began producing Advent calendars in the early 20th century - is credited with making Advent calendars more widely accessible and commercial by printing them with colourful illustrations and incorporating small doors that could be opened to reveal images or messages behind each date.
Sellmer's Advent calendars were initially inspired by the traditional religious themes of the season, but he also produced calendars with secular and whimsical designs, making them appealing to a broader audience. His work helped popularise the notion of Advent calendars as a delightful and often collectible part of the holiday season, and his company is still manufacturing Advent Calendars to this day!