Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advent

Advent refers to the time leading up to Christmas, and is the time for preparing for the holiday, baking cookies, eating Lebkuchen and Stollen. It´s also Christmas Market time! See here for a list of Christmas Markets in the HENhaus area.

One tradition involves the Adventkalendar. Advent Calendars come in various shapes and forms, but the idea is that one counts down the 24 days until Christmas (December 1-24). The more traditional are boxes, with a piece of chocolate or candy behind 24 doors.
Photo: Karstadt online
The largest door is always the 24th. 
There are Advent Calendars for everyone, Some have toys behind the doors, others have liquor oe beer! I´ve seen Nivea and La Roche skin care calendars, and even "adult" calendars as well. Really, anything goes! 
 If you can´t find the one you want, there are also some you fill yourself. Karstadt has an amazing selection. 
Photo: Katescreativespace.com
Photo: theidearoom.net



While many German Christmas traditions are hundreds, if not thousands of years old, this one is rather new. Though stories differ, one originates in Maulbronn, Germany. The mother of a young Gerhard Lang grew tired of him asking when Christmas was coming, and created the first Advent Calendar by sticking candies (or cookies or chocolates depending on the story) on a piece of cardboard so that he could visualize (and eat!) the countdown. When Gerhard grew up, he was the owner of a printing company, and created the first Advent Calendar as we know it, with little doors to open in Munich around 1904. It was known as the Munich Christmas Calendar. It did not contain chocolate, rather, Bible verses and pictures related to the Holiday. During the War, production was stopped, due to the rationing of cardboard. In 1946, a man named Richard Sellmar brought the calendars back, but it wasn´t until the 1950´s that the calendars contained chocolate.

Another Advent tradition is the Adventskranz, or Advent Wreath.
Photo: Wikipedia
The wreath contains four red or violet candles to symbolize the four weeks of Advent. Sometimes a Christ Candle is placed in the middle. Beginning on the first Sunday of Advent, a candle is lit. Families gather around the wreath and may read Bible passages, pray together or sing songs.

A popular song to be sung around the wreath can be found here.






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