The 24 chocolates of Christmas

Day 3 in our ChristmasCalendar2019!
Food: Food for Body. Food for Soul. Food for your inner child 👶

What was the best part of Christmas to you when you were a kid? For me, it was the presents. Of course, as you grow older you tend to treasure quality family time, seeing old friends, maybe that special food that takes five hours to make so we only make it for this special occasion… but when you are a kid, let’s be honest, it’s all about if you got the latest Pokemon game or the “original” Tamagochi (I may be dating myself a little here!). The second most favourite part for me was the chocolate advent calendar. That little cardboard box, with beautiful pictures and – most importantly – a window for each day from 1st to 24th of December, where a chocolate hides behind. I will admit it still is one of my favourite things about Christmas to this day. When I was a kid, this was the opportunity to eat candy every day. Now, it is mostly a reminder of childhood and its simple pleasures. The happiness of seeing my mom coming home from the grocery store with this big box, always with the most beautiful pictures printed and laying it as an exhibition artwork on the kitchen counter. And the long, long, looooong wait for those last days of November to pass, until on the 1st of December, when I could finally take my first chocolate.

As we were talking about the Christmas calendar for the blog (“one post every day”) it dawned upon me this was also a sort of advent. So it wasn’t such a long stretch to then wonder “What  advent actually is and where does it come from?”

More than chocolate

As it turns out, advent does not translate to “cardboard with 24 chocolates one for each day from 1st of December until Christmas” 😊. The word “advent” is derived from the Latin word for “coming”. Advent used to be a time for new Christians to prepare for baptism [2]. Now it is mostly associated with the four weeks before Christmas and is a time of preparation for the festivities and religious services [4,6]. It is counted from the Sunday closest to the feast day of Saint Andrew the apostle, on November 30th [2,3,4]. Nowadays, for practical reasons, most advent calendars start on the 1st of December, regardless of weekday.

A little bit of history – from advent to calendar

The advent as a calendar, or counting, originated in the 19th century in Germany. German protestants used to light a candle for the day, or simply make a mark of chalk counting the advent days [1,2,3,6].

In the early 1900s the first printed calendar appeared. Gerhald Lang is the most credited with popularizing the format we know today, by adding the little windows or doors to “hide” something behind. When World War II broke, Lang went out of business. After the war, Richard Sellmer resumed the advent production and his company is, to this day, one of the main producers of advent calendars [1,2,5].

What about the chocolate advent?

When I started researching about advent and advent calendar, a very common phrase to come across was: “Today, most Advent calendars include paper doors that open to reveal an image, Bible verse, or piece of chocolate”. To be honest, until now I didn’t even know the religious meaning of advent, and all I knew was the chocolate version. Turns out they have been around for decades and may also include other things such as bible verses – boy I am glad I never got one of those as a child. It would have been terribly disappointing! The first chocolate-filled calendars came about in the late 50s, produced by Cadbury, and slowly gained the popularity they have now [1,6].

While researching for this article, I learned a lot about  different advent calendars. From the most expensive (get it at Harrods for 50,000 pounds!) to the largest, to the geekiest… but I will say my absolute favourite was from The Atlantic, where every advent day they post a picture taken by the Hubble telescope. The pictures are absolutely gorgeous and do make us wonder about our little role in our little world – and for a brief moment or two, forget all about the chocolate 🍫. Find it here! -> https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2019/12/2019-hubble-space-telescope-advent-calendar/602827/

The first picture of The Atlantic Hubble advent 2019.
“Starry Night”, Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting, is renowned for its bold whorls of light sweeping across a raging night sky. Although this image of the heavens came only from the artist’s restless imagination, a new picture from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope bears remarkable similarities to the van Gogh work, complete with never-before-seen spirals of dust swirling across trillions of kilometres of interstellar space. This image, obtained with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on February 8, 2004, is Hubble’s latest view of an expanding halo of light around a distant star, named V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon). The illumination of interstellar dust comes from the red supergiant star at the middle of the image, which gave off a flashbulb-like pulse of light two years ago. V838 Mon is located about 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the direction of the constellation Monoceros, placing the star at the outer edge of our Milky Way galaxy.
Credit:NASA, the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI) and ESA

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  1. https://doinghistoryinpublic.org/1-advent-calendars/
  2. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/26522/brief-history-advent-calendars
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent_calendar
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent
  5. https://sellmer-verlag.de/
  6. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/qi/10497094/QI-some-quite-interesting-facts-about-Advent.html

Banner Picture: by Pixaline from Pixabay 

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