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Culture

Meditative Moments Amid Christmas Chaos

Stressful, hectic and chaotic – if that’s what the Advent period before Christmas means to you, here’s something to soothe those frazzled nerves and get you into an introspective mood.

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Read, absorb, contemplate...

Everybody knows that drained out feeling in the four Advent weeks before Christmas.

There’s just so much to do – racking your brains to think of original ideas for Christmas presents. Scooting from work to the shops before they close to avoid battling the masses on the weekend. Buying train tickets on time to be with the entire family on Christmas eve... Phew! Life has never seemed as stressful!

What you need is a quiet contemplative moment for yourself –and that’s exactly what the "Other Advent" calendar promises.

No kitsch, just plain and simple

An initiative by an evangelical organisation in Hamburg called "Andere Zeiten" or "other times", the calendar is quite unlike your run-of-the-mill Advent calendar.

No glittering stars, Santa Claus or cherubic angels here. Rather the "Other Advent" calendar is simple and unpretentious. Short texts and poems by German personalities such as Rosa Luxemborg and Reinhard Mey among several others invite you to reflect philosophically on life and happiness, your fears and hopes.

No moral lessons either

The calendar refrains from cutesy Christmas postcard-like pictures. Instead the pictures are varied - a breathtaking sunset, a streetscape, ordinary people, and even some paintings by Marc Chagall, Käthe Kollwitz and others.

Twelve thought-provoking minutes every morning, beginning on the first Advent Sunday right up to January 6, Epiphany.

And for all those sceptics out there, the texts are far from being moralistic or preachy. For many people, the calendar has become a source of meditative peace during the hectic days of the holiday season.

Personal and German

The "Andere Zeiten" organisation began with the "Other Advent" calendar six years ago with 4,000 copies. In this year alone, more than 150,000 editions were sold. Some even in the Middle East and in Mexico. The calendar costs 15 DM or 7,67 euro.

For the editorial team the Advent period lasts from December to March. This is when the calendar takes shape. Suitable texts are collected for the individual days and pinned to a board.

Pastor Westphal admits that the calendar is shaped by the own thoughts of the editorial team, who collect the texts. But that’s what gives the calendar such a personal character, he says.

Personal the "Other Advent" calendar sure is. But there’s another thing you should take into account before planning to get one - the calendar is only in German.

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