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This time of year combines both a religious and secular holiday. The Advent calender is a good example of this blending. Advent is the Christian religious season leading up to Christmas. An Advent calender is one way of counting down the days to Christmas. Some religious traditions use a candle, or candles lit for a period of time to count down. Others are a calender with windows on it, one for each day of the holiday.

Traditional Advent starts anywhere from the 27th of November to the 3rd of December. It ends 4 Sundays later. This year Advent starts on December 2nd. Being a good little Catholic I’ve got my advent candles lit. But if you go with an advent calender, they start on the 1st of December and are a straight count of days 1-25 to Christmas. This is where you start seeing the bleed through of secular, as merchandisers over the years have simplified the idea behind the Advent calender.

My first experience with an Advent calender was totally secular. It was while living in Germany, and involved a cool calender with chocolate inside! I could have cared less about the religious experience, I just wanted the goodies. These days you get everything from small toys to various kinds of candy in an Advent calender.

These days, I see the Advent calender is a snapshot of a day building up to the holiday. Like an Advent calender, I open up little windows along the way about things I enjoy about this time of year.

This is a very cool house in Germany which is done up each year as a real life Advent calender. Check out the numbered windows!

Rathaus_Hünfeld_Adventskalender