Lisa's week

lisas week teaser

Lisa's week: What’s behind the door?

Advent Calendar

It’s Advent, and for many of us that means that there’s an Advent calendar somewhere in your home with 24 little doors to open in the run up to Christmas.

But where does the tradition of these pretty calendars come from?

The four weeks of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas Eve, which start somewhere between the 27th November and 3rd December appears to have been celebrated since the fourth century. The Sunday closest to the feast day of St Andrew the Apostle (30th November) is the first Sunday and then the following three Sundays make up the period and it was originally the period of time that converts to Christianity needed to prepare for their baptism. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word for “coming”.

The tradition of calendars, typically starting on 1st December and continuing through to 24th December, started in the mid-19th century when they made chalk lines to mark the days, or lit candles to count down the period. Many of us still do this today, either with a tall candle with the 24 days of December printed on it so that a section of the candle is burnt each day, or with an Advent wreath or decoration including four candles for each of the four Sundays. The Advent wreath or decoration was new to me when I first arrived in Germany and I’ve very much taken this custom into my own pre-Christmas period.

But what about those little doors?

It seems that the first calendars were produced in Germany in the early years of the 1900s – there are a lot of claims to the first ever printed calendar - and had yet to include doors. Early specimens included small pictures that would be stuck to a cardboard background and the idea of small, numbered doors came a few years later. Early versions also included calendars with bible verses rather than pictures behind the doors and by the 1930s, the Advent calendar had become popular around the world.

During WWII, production of calendars was suspended due to the lack of cardboard but they were back on the shelves in 1946. Chocolate-filled calendars hit the market as early as 1958 although, all through my childhood, I only had a picture-based version. I first experienced the thrill of some daily chocolate when I first met my German husband and Advent took on new meaning for me!

With hundreds of different types of Advent candles, wreaths, decorations or calendars available in the shops, and many hundreds more being made by crafty types, there’s one out there for everyone.

What’s type are you?


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?