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There was a time when they were reserved for children. They often come in the form of chocolate or small gifts behind a tiny cardboard window each day in the lead-up to Christmas. But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll still want an advent calendar (even late in your 20s). And nowadays, there really is no reason why everyone on your list can’t have one to enjoy the countdown to Christmas. 

What is advent?

This season, which is four weeks long, begins on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle and continues through the next three Sundays. According to historians, the term “Advent” was derived from the Latin word for coming. This period typically refers to the time when Christians prepare for baptism. But nowadays, it’s more commonly associated with the birth of Christ and the celebration of Christmas on the 25th of December. 

The history behind the advent calendar

Advent calendars are a traditional way to celebrate the countdown to Christmas. Historically, they’re of German origin. And in the 19th century, protestants in Germany would mark the days counting down to Christmas with chalk marks on their front doors. Or they would mark the day by burning a candle. The first wooden  Advent calendar was created in 1851. The first printed calendars appeared in the early twentieth century, and they were created by Gerhard Lang. He is often regarded as the inventor of the modern advent calendar. Other old versions added verses from the Bible to the traditional pictures behind the windows. 

Photo by Any Lane from Pexels

Before the war ended, Lang’s business, unfortunately, ceased operating. And because of the fact that cardboard was rationed, the calendars were never printed. Amazingly, Richard Sellmar managed to get a permit to reprint them after the war ended. During the late 1950s, calendars that were filled with chocolate started to appear in stores. And that was when the demand for such calendars grew. Eisenhower is frequently credited with popularizing them in the US. And today, they are a worldwide phenomenon, though at their core their purpose remains the same. 

These days, there’s one for everyone

In 2021, we are not limited to just the chocolate ones. There’s a huge variety of them, and there’s pretty much one for everyone. Personally, I’m still a fan of the traditional version where you open each door to reveal chocolate. And mostly, the chocolate variety is still the most prevalent. But over the years, big companies have cottoned on to the fun. And big companies like Nespresso, Lego, NYX, and even Chanel have got in on the fun. You can get an advent calendar that contains anything from makeup to wine. But there’s no need for the joy of opening a little door each day to be reserved for the kids, even adults can join in. 

Some institutions take their creations to the next level. One of these was a Christmas tree-shaped calendar carved from walnut and elmwood. It was sold by Harrods in 2007 for a massive $50,000. It featured 24 compartments and was made to raise money for cocoa farmers in Belize. Each compartment contained a piece of organic chocolate from the local brand Green & Black. Then, also in 2007, a calendar measuring 232 feet wide and 11 inches tall was constructed at London’s St. Pancras train station. It is, to date, the largest advent calendar ever built and was constructed to celebrate the reopening of the station. 

Here are a few cool options to get you started 

For the makeup lovers

  • NYX Gimme Super Stars!

    Instagram / @nyxcosmetics

  • Charlotte Tilbury’s ‘Most divine beauty calendar yet’
  • Sigma’s 12 Days of Sigma

For the wine and spirits lovers

  • Macy’s Wine Cellar 2020 Wine Lovers’ Advent Calendar
  • The Spirit Co.’s Bourbon and American Whiskey Collection
  • Vinebox’s 12 Nights of Wine

If they love skincare

  • Kiehl’s 2020 Limited Edition Skincare Advent Calendar
  • The Body Shop’s Make It Real Together advent calendar
  • L’Occitane Advent Calendar

Other options include

  • LEGO Star Wars advent calendar
  • Harry Potter Holiday Magic: The Official Advent Calendar
  • Funko Advent Calendar: The Office 24 Vinyl Pocket Pop! Figures


Main photo credit: Photo by Torsten Dettlaff from Pexels


Katie Hart

Katie Hart is a successful beauty and fashion blogger who is currently studying a BA in Fashion Media at LISOF. Her hobbies include styling, reading, true crime podcasts and singing. She is a lover of all things fashion, but is happiest when sitting with her mini Maltese, Aria.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.