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What Is an Advent Calendar? & How to Create One

An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count down to December 25: The celebration of the Birth of Jesus. The Advent calendar tradition evidently dates back to the 1850s and typically includes 24 doors or boxes to open, one for every day in December leading up to Christmas Day.

Nov 26, 2019
What Is an Advent Calendar? & How to Create One

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

For most of Christianity, Advent is the time of preparation for the arrival of Christmas, commemorating the Birth of Christ, and anticipating His Second Coming. An Advent calendar is a unique calendar used to help us count down to December 25th: The celebration of the birth of Jesus. Advent calendars range between 22 and 28 days, depending on the day of the week for Christmas.

We count down to the celebration of the first Advent because we have a set day on the calendar since it has already occurred. We commemorate the birth of Jesus on December 25. Although it’s doubtful that December 25th was Jesus’ actual birthday, it’s traditionally selected to remember and reflect on the birth of our Lord and Savior. So how can an Advent calendar help us to prepare for Christmas?

What is an Advent Calendar?

The Advent calendar tradition seemingly dates back to the 1850s. The calendar typically includes 24 doors or boxes to open, one for every day in December leading up to Christmas Day.

Some Advent calendars are simple, revealing a picture of a portion of the nativity story behind each tiny door. Some calendars feature a piece of chocolate for each day of the countdown. Some are more elaborate and expensive and include toys or gifts. The Advent calendar has become a bit of a craze or “megatrend” of late, as seen here on the Today Show.

Is it possible to go overboard with the concept of the Advent calendar, allowing it to even distract from the reason for the season: the birth of Christ? Absolutely, but anything has the potential to distract us instead of focusing our hearts on Christ and His coming to earth as the Savior of the world. Be sure to use your Advent calendar as a faithful preparation for Christmas, joyfully anticipating the Nativity of Christ!

Get your FREE copy of 25 Days of Advent Devotionals and Readings! Print these and share them with family and friends to keep your mind's attention and heart's affection for Jesus this holiday season.

How to Create an Advent Calendar

There are various ways to create a "countdown" calendar for Advent. A simple method is to use sticky notes on a regular calendar, starting with the first day of Advent this year (November 27th, 2022). Place a note on each day, with numbers counting down the 28 days to Christmas Eve (December 24th). On the back of each sticky note, you can write Bible verses (like "Luke 2:11") to read for that day related to the prophecies or birth of Jesus Christ. After your Bible reading, thank God in prayer and celebrate His coming by sharing candy or dessert! Use these Advent Bible verses to find scripture readings for your Advent calendar.

More Than One Advent

Advent usually refers to the first coming of Christ to earth: His birth to the Virgin Mary. God became flesh. This is known as the Incarnation

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

That is not the only Advent, however. The second coming of Christ, or second Advent, has not yet happened. We know from the Bible, the Word of God, that it will happen. Jesus is coming again! We simply don’t know when.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:42-44)

“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’” (Acts 1:7-11).

Advent of the Second Coming

We can only have an Advent calendar for the first Advent. We cannot count down to an unknown date and time. However, we can be ready for the second Advent. And how can we accomplish this? 

1. Make sure you are a true disciple. First, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and, as Acts 16:31 promises, “you will be saved.” Second, live to do the Father’s will! “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). God’s will is clearly revealed in His Word, the Bible. 

2. Make other disciples! Spread the good news about Jesus! Jesus did not leave us without purpose or direction. He gave His disciples a task to accomplish until His return: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Advent and Christmas are right around the corner. Celebrate Jesus’ first coming and be ready for His second coming! 

©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Natalia Bodrova

Kristi Walker has been a missionary in Berlin, Germany, for over 15 years working with an international church as the Director of Student Ministries. She is the author of two books, Disappointment: A Subtle Path Away from Christ and Convinced. Applying Biblical Principles to Life’s Choices.


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