Advent – the period leading up to Christmas – has been celebrated since Christianity began. But the advent calendar itself is a more modern tradition.
It started in mid-19th century Germany, where people made chalk marks on doors or lit candles to count down the days until Christmas.
The first printed advent calendar is credited to German printer Gerhard Lang. In 1908 he created the classic design – 24 windows or doors to open, with a picture behind each one.
Since then the advent calendar has moved on from simple pictures. Modern versions include ones filled with chocolates, toys, beauty products and even beer.