The Advent Calendar is another German Christmas tradition that made its way to the States. First used by German Lutherans in the 19th century, early advent calendars often included a window that opened to reveal a Bible verse. As that was not enough to interest children, later versions would hold candies or treats.
Some German Christmas markets include an advent calendar at the center of the the city square where the market is held. One of the most popular, and purportedly the largest, is in Gengenbach, a small city on the western edge of the Black Forest. The city hall happens to have 24 windows upper story windows (pictured above). Each evening at 6 pm beginning the last day of November, a window opens to reveal a hand painted cartoon character. Every year is a different theme. This lasts until the night before Christmas Eve, when there is a celebration and song that accompanies the reveal of the final window. And then everyone drifts back home to their homes to begin their own family celebrations.
Watch the YouTube video here to see a bit of Gengenbach's Christmas celebration. And pick up a special Christmas heirloom item in our gift shop to begin your own Christmas tradition. We also have German chocolates, to help hold the little ones' interest.