Once upon a time, Bas Bleu’s founder spied a beautiful German Advent calendar and thought: “Our readers might like that.” Two decades later, Advent calendars are a staple of our Autumn and Holiday catalogs, flying off the shelves faster than Rudolph zooms out of the North Pole! But what are Advent calendars….and, for that matter, what is Advent?
No one is 100% certain, but religious scholars generally agree that the Advent season originated in fifth- or sixth-century Spain and Gaul (modern-day Western Europe). New Christians were baptized on Epiphany in January, and Advent was a weeks-long period of fasting and preparation leading up to that event. By the Middle Ages, Advent officially spanned four weeks, covering the four Sundays leading up to Christmas day.
Nineteenth-century German Protestants earn credit for creating the first Advent “calendar”: twenty-four chalk marks on a door. In the early 1920s, a man named Gerhard Lang improved upon an Advent calendar his mother had made—featuring twenty-four pictures fastened to a piece of cardboard—by adding little “doors.” And the rest, as they say, is history!
This year, Advent begins on December 1…corresponding perfectly with our Advent calendars! You can peruse all of this year’s offerings on our website, but here are seven Advent calendars we think are extra special.
Twenty-Four Days of Tea Advent Calendar
Book lovers and tea go together like, well, tea and honey! Behind each door of this delicious Advent calendar is a single teabag, one of a variety of flavors and blends. Whether you begin or end your day with a hot cuppa, it’s a wonderful way to carve out a few quiet minutes each day during the hectic holiday season.
Christmas is Coming!: An Advent Book
Children tend to get a little, um, excited during the Christmas season. Channel their Santa-expecting energy into fun activities with this handy book, filled with twenty-four (one for each day of Advent) seasonal crafts and other activities for kids and families to enjoy together.
Come to think of it, why should kids have all the holiday fun? This cool calendar combines annual holiday tasks (decorate the Christmas tree, hang a Christmas stocking) with an extra dose of holiday fun (make a Christmas playlist, have a festive drink). When you complete each day’s activity, use a coin to scratch off the silver “ornament” and reveal a tiny Christmas picture.
Moonlight Silhouette Advent Calendar
The beauty of flat Advent calendars is they can be displayed on doors, walls, your fridge, a bulletin board…almost anywhere! This calendar, however, looks its best in your window: The picturesque forest scene is rendered in silhouette against a translucent night sky, beautifully illuminated when backlit by natural light.
Vintage Gramophone Musical Advent Calendar
This may be the most unique Advent calendar we’ve ever carried! Instead of twenty-four doors to mark the days of Advent, this battery-powered gadget comes with twenty-four numbered and illustrated little “records.” Each day, place the corresponding disc onto the gramophone, move the arm to activate the turntable, and listen to a brief snippet of a Christmas carol!
Victorian Christmas Houses Advent Calendar Cards
Part of what makes the holiday season so special is celebrating with family and friends. But if distance separates you from your loved ones, you can still share a Christmas tradition with these compact Advent calendar cards. Small enough to mail—to college students, service members stationed far from home, or just a dear friend—yet large enough to enjoy pride of place on your mantel or bedside table, these little cards have a lot of heart.
Music in the Street Advent Calendar
If you started listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween, this audio Advent calendar will make your holiday-loving heart sing! Yes, it offers a traditionally wonderful Christmas illustration: a festive snow-covered street scene complete with a trio of jazz-playing Santas. But when you open each of the twenty-four windows and press the little picture inside, this calendar plays a jazzy Christmas tune!
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