Someone asked me yesterday if Advent was in Scripture. And while you will definitely not find a Bible with instructions on how to create an Advent calendar, you will find stories about anticipation and preparation.
The first mention of Advent as a season begins to appear in 480 AD. Church history will take you through lots of decrees, canons and Ecclesiastical writings evolving to how Advent is observed now. For Catholics, this takes the form of honoring the four Sundays before Christmas–often beginning before December 1.
The Advent Calendar–which begins on December 1–originated in Germany sometime in the 19th Century, and in printed form in 1908. The printing company Reichhold & Lang of Munich made the first one–including figuring out how to perforate/score the little paper doors to open and close. Too bad they weren’t able to secure a patent for that–otherwise maybe they would still be printing today. (My sister currently lives outside of Munich, I wonder if she ever comes across any mention of Reichhold & Lang. I’ll have to remember to ask her.)
And if you want to be amazed, check out the Hubble Telescope Advent Calendar. Pretty awesome. My other favorite one right now is the Eric Carle Advent Calendar and of course, for my nephews and my brother there are Star Wars Lego Advent Calendars.
The common element between all of these and my own daily creation during this season, besides Advent, is the idea of practice. The practice of making, of carving out space during each day to anticipate, to prepare, and not to prepare for the consumer side of Christmas, but of celebrating the hope and possibility of peace within ourselves and our greater world.