Advent – It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas

We all start to think about Christmas earlier in the least, we do, anyway!  It seems that, as soon as the Halloween decorations have left our shops, the fake snow and baubles are placed next to the greeting cards, with Cliff Richard crooning over our heads.  Whether it’s spreading the cost of the holiday season, or the worry of catching the looming postal deadline, the constant reminder of ‘Holidays are coming’ rings out earlier and earlier in the final quarter of the year.  One real marker that ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ has begun, though, has to be Advent.

The word advent stems from the Latin ‘coming’, and dates back to as early as 567, when monks were ordered to fast during December in the lead up to Christmas.  The anticipation of this particularly important day in the lives of these early Christians was celebrated throughout the month, in a way that showed their reverence to Christ.  Our modern day traditions are a little more indulgent, however!

The origins of our modern day advent calendar first became popular just over a hundred years ago in Germany.  This time, the tradition comes from the expectation of Kris Kringle leaving presents under the Tannenbaum, and we here in England commissioned our version first in 1956, although at this stage, without the chocolate.  Instead, Advent calendars showed a festive image behind each window, sometimes religious, and sometimes a more seasonal image, like a robin or a sprig of holly.  Someone in the 21st century can look on those first calendars, almost half a century ago, and practically hear Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ wafting over the wintry, crisp air, with an overwhelming Christmassy nostalgia.  The chocolate advent calendars didn’t really get popular in the UK until the 1980’s, but have remained a steadfast addition on the mantelpieces of children (and, let’s face it, grown-ups children) ever since.

Christmas, at least to us here at ooh, has always had that tinge of nostalgia that really makes this time of year so special to so many.  We’ve had forty years in this country of the modern advent calendar, and since then three generations have grown up with the bubbling excitement for the run up to Christmas.  Lists for Father Christmas, visiting Santa’s Grotto, posting letters to loved ones and choosing gifts for family has been such a staple for so many, and as these children grow up the excitement of Noel shifts, but never really goes away.  Just like those monks who first celebrated advent, the exhilaration that comes with waiting for Christmas is just as important as the day itself.

Advent, on a more practical side of the season, highlights a more organisational time of year.  After all, it’s beginning to look a lot like admin!  Hauling the Christmas decorations down from the loft often brings about a deep clean of the house, and the bulk buying of Christmas cards means reaching out the old phone book.  Here at ooh, we believe that the joy of giving gifts is the best thing about Christmas.  The glow of giving, as some have described it as, has actually been proven to release a powerful hit of dopamine in the brain, and, as is usually the case, the anticipation of your loved one receiving your gift only increases that warm, fuzzy feeling.

It’s been a long year, and Christmas means so much to so many people, and in so many ways.  As the nights grow longer and the days get darker, it’s now more important than ever to let loved ones know that you care, whether it’s by letter, by FaceTime, by a well thought out gift, or perhaps even their own advent calendar to count down the days.

So, as we welcome the season and the end of year, we here at ooh wish you a safe, healthy and happy Christmas.  Why not take a look at our shop for gift box ideas and check out our selection of beautiful boxes to send as gifts this Christmas.

November 26, 2020 — Julie Selby