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    Origins of the Advent Calendar

    The 1st of December marks the day most people start unveiling their Advent Calendar, a countdown celebrating each day of the Advent in anticipation of Christmas.It has become a child favourite for the season, as they go through each day making new discoveries - when the calendar's merely educational - or getting a new treat, when behind each window they'll find a small gift: probably chocolate. No wonder kids, of all ages, love them!But how many of us really know where the Calendar came from, what are its origins and related traditions?

    The Advent Calendar's origins can be traced back to Germany, as early as the 19th century, although they still didn't have little windows to open. Nor sweets behind them! Families used to count down the first 24 days of December, leading up to Christmas, by drawing a chalk line on the door each day. Other more elaborate traditions included lighting a new candle each day or hanging Xmas related pictures on the wall. The tradition eventually evolved into printed calendars. The first of those were made available at the start of 20th century and if anyone is credited with its creation it would have to be Gerhard Lang. Lang's mother made him a basic handmade Advent Calendar, with 24 'Wibbele' (small candy) sticked on a cardboard. So, each day leading up to Christmas Eve, young Gerhard would take and eat a sweet. Lang never forgot the excitement he felt when he was given his calendar at the beginning of each December and how it reminded him every day that the great celebration of the year was approaching.When he eventually grew up, Gerhard created the first printed Advent Calendar, with a small coloured picture for each day in Advent. They became widespread in the 1950s, when they finally hit the nail in the head and added chocolate to the mix, and are now a season feature in the United Kingdom and almost everywhere people celebrate Christmas.

    If you're on holiday and shopping in London, you'll find many of these around. They make a great gift for children, as they are perfect to prepare for Christmas, while adding meaning and a heightened sense of expectation to the season. Add to that the comfort of having your own car hire in London, with a full car boot for you to put all your shopping items and you're all set for the season.Belfast is also a great destination for your Xmas shopping and for your Advent Calendar hunting. Save money on your car hire in Belfast, splash on gifts instead...but make sure you still have room for those in your hire car boot!How do you prepare for Christmas? Is there an Advent Calendar involved with sweets, chocolate? Let us know all about it! Use the comment box below and share your stories.

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