The Advent calendar - from wagon wheel to sweet companion

Advent calendars accompany us through the Advent season and sweeten the anticipation of Christmas. But how long have the calendars actually been around, have they always looked like they do today and what does a wagon wheel in a boys' rescue home have to do with it? The answers and much more can be found in our latest blog post.

The history of the Advent calendar begins at the end of the 1830s with a wagon wheel. Johann Heinrich Wichern was a theologian and ran a so-called boys' rescue home near Hamburg at the time. Here, "neglected" boys found a place to stay and were to be educated to become better people in accordance with the values of the time. During the Advent season, the boys came together every day for a prayer service in which they sang Advent hymns together. One day, Wichern brought along an old wagon wheel. He put 20 red and four large white candles on it. The children were now allowed to light a red candle every day and one of the white candles on the four Sundays of Advent. The Advent calendar was born.


This, at least, is the first documented form of an Advent calendar. In fact, in those years, many families introduced their own customs to celebrate the Advent season and fuel the anticipation of Christmas.

Some gradually hung 24 pictures with Christmas motifs on the wall or drew chalk lines on the door, one of which the children were allowed to wipe off every day. The so-called Advent trees and homemade wooden frames were also widespread. Every day, the children attached a small flag, a star with Bible verses or a candle to these, with the increasing light symbolizing the imminent arrival of Jesus Christ. Another popular custom was for children to place a straw in the crib every day to make the Christ child's arrival as comfortable as possible.

When Advent became chocolatey

The era of printed Advent calendars, which were still called "Christmas calendars" at the time, began in Germany at the start of the 20th century. In the 1920s, it was above all the Munich publisher Gerhard Lang who made a name for himself with innovative ideas. For example, he designed a calendar with 24 pictures to cut out and one with a corresponding number of boxes to stick the cut-out pieces into. This was later followed by Advent calendars such as the "Christkindleinhaus zum Füllen mit Schokolade" and picture calendars with little doors. Other publishers copied Lang's successful model and brought further variants onto the market. The Advent calendar with hinged doors, behind which colorful Advent motifs were hidden, became a bestseller - and in the 1950s finally became a mass product. At the end of the decade, the chocolate Advent calendar took the place of the picture calendar and is still one of the best-selling forms today.

Quality, design and taste - the right thing for everyone

We at the Windel Group also have a share in this. In 1986, the first chocolate-filled Advent calendar rolled off the production line at our parent company. It was the start of an unprecedented success story. Today, we produce millions of copies of our bestseller in various sizes, shapes and designs. Whether in organic or vegan quality, with filled chocolate chunks or in the fine whole milk version, whether romantically nostalgic or in modern motifs, whether designed to individual customer requirements or as a licensed version with the covers of popular comic characters - every chocolate lover will find the right companion for the Advent season in our range.