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Culture

Virtually Counting the Days

Whether Ramadam, Chanuka, or Christmas - December is a very special month in many countries and religions all over the world. The countdown to Christmas begins with the Advent calendar.

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The countdown to Christmas begins with the Advent calendar which dates as far back as the 1800s

For children who simply can not wait for Santa Claus to bring his presents, the Advents calendar can be of great help. Opening a door each day, and finding either a pretty Christmas picture, a piece of chocolate, or even a small present have made many an exasperated parent thankful for the existence of this century-old Christmas tradition.

But the Advents calendar has its disadvantages too. The pictures can get boring after a while. Chocolate is fattening and bad for the teeth, and there is no way of stopping over excited children from opening all the doors at once.

There is, however, a solution to this dilemma: The internet.

Virtual advent calendars very often offer only one picture a day. This is one way of preventing nosy children taking a peek at what the 24th door has to offer. Internet calendars do not yet contain chocolate. And, they are free of charge.

Internet calendars come in all shapes and sizes. The Berlin-studies calendar has a whole range of 19th century Christmas pictures to offer. "Loveletters4you" has various love letters written behind its doors. Under kalendomat.de, users can order their very own, personal calender, which can then be sent to friends and family. Other virtual calenders include 24 personalized greetings per sms plus different Christmas tunes and festive logos.

The origin of the Advent Calendar can be traced back to the 19th century. Protestant families would draw a chalk line for every day in December until Christmas Eve. The first known handicraft Advent calendar was made in 1851. However, the first printed version was made by Gerhard Lang from Maulbronn, Germany.

Other early variants of the Advent calendar were the Adventclock or the Adventcandle - a candle for each of the 24 days until Christmas, similar to the Advent wreath. In some families small pictures were hung up on the wall - one
for each day in December.

Whether via picture, chocolate, or internet, the ancient tradition of the Advent calendar is still going strong in Germany.

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