Marja-Leena Rathje
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advent calendars

from Virtual Finland

This morning, as I flipped the calendar pages over to the last page, it hit me that it is now December or Joulukuu (Finnish for Christmas month). So much to do and what do I do today instead of writing cards or making lists? Reading blogs and browsing for calendars! I was inspired by my Finnish blog friend Viides rooli's post today about an online advent calendar and by the memories it brought back.

How many of you, my dear readers, had these secular advent calendars made of card with little windows for the first 24 days of December? Each day a window was opened and a little chocolate treat was enjoyed. What anticipation counting the days to Christmas! We had these every year for our children when young. I kind of miss them now but they don't seem as nice as they used to be so I don't bother for us grown-ups.

Online advent calendars are such a delightful alternative so I ended up browsing through my blog and my bookmarks to find past ones that I'd gathered. Most were dead but here are some Finnish/English ones that are enjoyable, especially if you have some young children in your life to share them with. They help me get into the Christmas mood, especially since our weather is still too warm here. (I need snow!) I will send this link to our granddaughters who are in London at present. We'll all be counting to the 22nd when they fly back here for Christmas.

Positiivarit Christmas Calendar 2008 with music. The first song is in Finnish, a popular children's song that I remember singing as a child in a group, wearing elf costumes and dancing around the tree, awaiting Santa at the annual Finnish Pikku Joulu or family Christmas Party.

Kidzone Finland calendar

Aura Library Christmas calendar

Interactive customizable advent calendars

Virtual Finland has a selection to browse through.

Do you have some favourite advent calendars you'd like to share?

Marja-Leena | 01/12/2008 | 10 comments
themes: Culture, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric


An Advent calendar was the subject of a moral crisis in our family. I wasn't aware of them but my wife got them for the kids when they were small. One day our younger daughter came home with a girl whose family life was terrible and whose mother was, to use the appropriate middle-class euphemism, "no better than she should be". The girl saw the calendar, asked to have the principle explained, then promptly opened all the remaining windows. It was like seeing someone spitting in church. Having previously been Advent-calendar-agnostic I turned into an avenging Jahweh figure. Mercifully I was restrained. Just as well, really. A couple of years later the girl, now aged 12 or 13, was pregnant. We continued to get calendars for our kids (right into their late teens - nothing as conservative as kids) but their gradual defenestration never had the same charm.

Ah those Chocolate advent calenders! Always love them. If I still see one now, I'll buy it :)

At the library I work, there's a kids one of Winnie the Pooh at the front desk and the kids do notice it. Just now and then I have to remind them not to open the other windows.

Thanks for the links, I'll check out tomorrow since I'll be home.

Barrett, that's such a sad story, poor girl! And it's sad that such a pleasant tradition was tarnished for you.

Cathy, glad you still enjoy the chocolates, and can share the fun with the children at your library.

Kiitos, Marja-Leena, maininnastasi. :-)

Joulukalenterit ovat todellakin ihania. Minulla on virtuaalisten lisäksi myös ihan aito paperinen versio, mutta suklaata luukkujen takaa ei ikävä kyllä löydy, vain hauskoja piirroskuvia.

Hyvää joulun odotusta! Älä tuhlaa päiviä turhaan kiireeseen.

What a lovely language Finnish seems to be! Joulukuu sounds and looks as good as its subject. Would I be right in supposing that "Joul" has something to do with the English word "Yule"?

Viides Rooli, arvaan että suomalaiset paperiset joulukalenterit ovat paljon kauniimpia kun meillä saadaan nykyään, joko suklaan tai piirroskuvineen! Samoin hauskaa joulun odotusta sinullekin, blogi ystävälle!

Joe, I think Finnish does sound lovely, so full of vowels, but I'm a wee bit prejudiced :-) I haven't done the etymology but have assumed "Joulu" is based on the Scandinavian "Jul", which in turn most likely is related to "Yule". The Finnish language likes vowel endings on their words.

Okay, I found the etymology at wikipedia - very interesting and I'm not far off in my assumptions!

We did have advent calendars when I was a kid, though I don't remember much about them. Every year this time I remember my favorite online advent calendar that Leslie Harpold did every year (she passed away suddenly in 2006, in early December). I sat with my mom one Christmas (2003 maybe?) walking her through the delightful Harpold advent calendar links on my laptop. She loved it. I'll check out your online links when I get a chance. Thanks!

Leslie, I remember Harpold's calendars from your blog. In fact, I still had the bookmarks but of course they were no longer active, sadly.

We always had Advent calendars with pictures only -- no chocolate. I marvel to think how exciting the gradual countdown was anyway (with so little payoff!). My children like German, slightly kitsch, calendars with chocolates in them -- and I'm happy to oblige this request. I do think a "Barbie" calendar is not quite in the spirit of the thing.

Barrett's story amused me. Clearly the child had never learned the concept of delayed gratification -- and did not go on to learn it, either!

Bee, I think it was the German ones we particularly enjoyed long ago, but they have been supplanted by tacky ones imported from the east. I certainly agree with you about 'Barbie' and other non-Christmas figures!