Welsh Witterings: Advent Calendars
There was a time when one of the first signs of Christmas in a British home was the unveiling of the children’s Advent calendar. The calendars were simple, but something that I looked forward to as a child and something that marked the start of the festivities.
Starting on the first day of December, the Advent calendars were a fun way to help children to know when Christmas Eve would arrive and they were a well loved tradition, but in the last few years advent calendars have experienced a dramatic makeover. No longer are Advent calendar’s simple card structures, having little doors which conceal a picture, a bible verse, Season’s greeting or in recent tradition chocolate; instead Advent calendars have become extravagant affairs that have become about luxury showpieces. The high street versions
now include gifts such as alcohol, make-up or luxury chocolate and can be priced from £20 upwards, but for those with an unlimited budget then the countdown to Christmas can be a very ornate and expensive affair, with plenty of overstated options available. Tiffany & Co unveiled the world’s most expensive Advent calendar this year, priced at £104,000 and standing four feet tall this advent contains everything from diamond pendants to watches. However, only one of these Advent calendars was made available in the UK and was for sale in Harrods, so if you missed out perhaps you can make do with an old and rare whisky calendar from Masters of Malt priced at £995.95 or perhaps a Christian Dior one priced at £340.00. My personal choice would be the Fortnum and Mason Advent calendar priced at £200 which includes allsorts of gluttonous food and drink.
It seems that advent calendars are popular with adults and children alike and no longer will a small morsel of chocolate with a picture suffice. Children’s Advents range from branded television characters, through to Harry Potter, teenage make up and even flavoured popcorn. The prices are no longer a few pounds, but another opportunity to break the bank, but I can’t help thinking that the meaning and history of the advent calendar has been lost..
The word ‘Advent’ is derived from the Latin word for ‘coming’. Originally, the four-week period known as Advent began as a time for converts to Christianity to prepare for baptism, though now it is more commonly associated with the celebrated anniversary of Christ’s birth: Christmas. Originally Advent calendars were simply card windows that revealed a festive picture, this was enough to keep the excitement of the festive season going and this continued to be the case for many years. The first chocolate Advent calendar appeared in 1958 and this was not an immediate success and took sometime to be adopted as a festive tradition, indeed it wasn’t until 1971 that Cadbury launched its own version in the UK. Cadbury produced Advent calendars intermittently from 1972 to 1986, but it wasn’t until 1993 that they finally became a annual favorite, however, it seems their popularity is now challenged by calendar’s containing pork scratchings, cheese, absinthe or anything that your imagination can stretch to.
Well, this year I shall not be buying a Tiffany & Co Advent calendar , but I will be watching to see if anyone else did.