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					                               Advent Calendars

Long a favorite gift for children, Advent calendars are now available on the Internet.
Many of the Internet Advent Calendars are directed at children. Some are religious;
some are not. However, even those that are not religious are often very sweet stories,
often allegorical.


The first Internet advent calendar that I encountered was about Tate the Cat,
http://www.advent-calendars.com. This year’s story will be “Tate and the Dogsford
Don.” However, I can’t tell you any of the story yet, because like many advent
calendars, Tate’s calendar is only for 25 days, December 1-25.


However, Tate’s previous advent calendars are available on line. Tate’s first advent
calendar appeared in 1998, modeled on the author’s own cat, named “Tate.” The
author decided to tell a sequential story, with one installment revealed each day.
Thus Tate and her owner Pierre, living in the French village of Bric-a-Brac, were
introduced. In December of 1998, the author received an e-mail from a man in France
who told her that he was getting up early each morning to translate the story into
French for his daughter. He kindly offered to e-mail back his translations, and so
Tate appeared in two languages that year. Since then, additional translators have
volunteered to do translations, and now Tate’s advent calendar appears in Italian,
Swedish, Dutch and German, as well as French and English.


Though not strictly religious, I actually found Tate from “Anglican On Line.”
Another on-line advent calendar that I particularly liked was the Artcyclopedia,
http://www.artcyclopedia.com/feature-2003-12.html. (This was actually their 2003
calendar, but other years are available). In this lovely calendar, there is a work of art
for each day, along with an explanation of the work. For example, the 2003 calendar
begins with a Titian, The Presentation of the Virgin.



                                                   Titian portrays a very little Mary who
                                                   is already dedicating her life to God,
                                                   leaving her home and entering the
                                                   Temple where she will pray and study
                                                   for ten years.




The second day presents St. Luke Painting the Virgin and Child, by Rogier van der
Weyden. The subject is taken from a 6th-century legend of Greek origin, according
to which St Luke was the first ever to draw a portrait of the Virgin Mary
Another religious advent calendar is http://www.smmp.com/Advent/Advent.htm,
which has a picture and a scripture reading for each day, and a musical selection. This
one, like many of the calendars, will not let you peek ahead.


I believe this one: http://beliefnet.com/index/index_10055.html is from the Heifer
Project.




Each day provides a hymn, links to prayers, suggested activities, essays, and even
links to discussion groups.
I found numerous interesting advent calendars. One offered a different
downloadable computer wallpaper for each day. Another offered a recipe for each
day in advent. Yet another offered a different puzzle for each day, each of a different
stained glass window. Several offered games for each day, and one even had a daily
cartoon version story, beginning with Scrooge and cast played by guinea pigs. The
Episcopal Diocese of Washington has children’s activities for each day:
http://www.edow.org/spirituality/advent/kids.html



The history of the advent calendar can be traced to the nineteenth century. The
first styles came from the protestants, and were as simple as a chalk marks on the door
for each day in advent. The first known actual calendar dates from 1851.


                      Earlier ways of marking the days of advent included the
                      Adventclock or Adventcandle, in which a new candle was lit for
                      each day in advent.


                      Sometimes little pictures were hung on the wall, again one for
                      each day in advent.

                      Probably the first handmade advent calendar dates from about
                      1902, when a Christian bookstore in Hamburg, Germany
                      published a “Christmas Clock.” In 1904, and Advent calendar
                      was published in Stuttgarts’ Neues Tagblatt Stuttgart as a
                      gift for their readers. The first printed calendar , although
                      without windows, was published in 1908, again in Germany.

                      World War II terminated the success of this German tradition.
                      Cardboard was rationed and it was forbidden to produce
Calendars with pictures. It was not until 1946, after the War, when it was again legal
to make cardboard advent calendars in Germany.

Today, of course, advent calendars are very common. Many are made from felt or
other materials. They come in a variety of shapes, such as a model of a house. The
German city of Dresden even has a giant calendar built into a fairytale castle on its
Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt.

Julkalender, a Swedish variation, is based on a TV- or radio-show series that runs
for 24 days for children. Typically, in connection with the show, the calendar door is
opened. Finland also has a similar TV series that runs for 24 days for children, but
it's also suitable for older audience because of its humor.

The best website for finding out about all of the on-line advent calendars is:
http://dir.yahoo.com/Society_and_Culture/Religion_and_Spirituality/Faiths_a
nd_Practices/Christianity/Holidays_and_Observances/Advent/Calendars/

Or just Google on “advent calendar.”

				
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