The season of Advent is traditionally celebrated by Christians in the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. It begins on the Sunday that falls between 27 November and 3 December each year and symbolises the "coming" of Christ.
The Christian message has since evolved into a modern day tradition, when both children and adults count down the days to 25 December with their own Advent calendars.
This festive practice originated in Germany, and dates back to the early 19th Century, when German Protestants marked the days of Advent by burning a candle or drawing on walls with chalk. The first handmade, wooden Advent calendar was reputedly created in 1851, and by the early 20th century, the first printed Advent calendars started appearing.
Gerhard Lang later added small doors to the Advent calendars in the 1920s, while short Bible verses and traditional pictures were added behind the doors in the 1930s.
Advent calendars later disappeared for a few years due to the rationing of cardboard and a calendar printing ban imposed by the Nazis, but made a comeback when Richard Sellmar of Stuttgart obtained a permit from the US to begin printing them again.
By the late 1950s, Chocolate Advent calendars were popular and nowadays, the cardboard Christmas countdowns contain a variety of treats, including spa products, children's toys and if you'r a really lucky adult: gin.
Today's OGN Sunday Magazine articles