POSTED BY: Pat Kinsley

Advent Calendars

22nd Nov, 2018
advent calendar

Last week, I was asked by the Sunday Independent to share my thoughts on the Advent Calendar. It got me wondering where they came from and what they were all about. I’ve always had the idea that Advent calendars were purely commercial but come to find out they have quite a long history.

Derived from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning coming or arrival, the tradition of the Advent calendar dates back to the 19th century. German Protestants lit candles or made chalk marks on doors to count the days leading up to Christmas. Those chalk marked doors turned to doors with Bible verses or chocolate behind them and the rest is history.

Now Advent calendars come in every shape and size. St. Pancras Train Station in London currently holds the Guinness World Record for largest Advent calendar – measuring 232 feet and 11 inches tall and 75 feet and 5 inches wide. It was constructed to celebrate the reopening of the station following renovation.


Brands are also jumping on the Advent calendar bandwagon. Some are even saying that stores are “cashing in on the countdown to Christmas.” Customers are paying steep price tags for various offerings behind those little cardboard doors. But it’s safe to say that you can find an Advent calendar fit for almost anyone. From the John Lewis and Partners Beauty Advent calendar to the Lego Advent calendar for the kids. There’s even a wine Advent calendar from Aldi.

So what’s the psychology behind the massive growth in popularity of Advent calendars? When I spoke to Laura Bradley from the Sunday Independent, I told her it’s about extending the Christmas feeling and building excitement and anticipation. It is an opportunity for brands to break out of their normal relationship with customers and do something different. Once you buy an Advent calendar you have to interact with it, so you are getting a subliminal message and engaging with the brand every day for 24 days.

Check out the rest of the article here.

And on that note – Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


One of the original Brand Thinkers on this Island, Pat has spent the last 33 years extolling the virtues of branding as an essential commercial device that improves every company’s bottom-line. A native of New York City, he brought this passion to Dublin City and now it travels with him wherever he goes!