Choosing a 2016 Advent Calendar
This week, the Church begins the season of Advent, the first season of a new liturgical year and the time we set aside to prepare for the coming of Christ: both his coming into the world at Christmas and his return in glory at the end of time.
One challenge facing us—and parents especially— is keeping Advent as its own season, while all around us, the world seems steeped in Christmas, which for us doesn’t begin until Christmas Eve. With all the shopping, entertaining, and advertising we have to contend with, how do we keep Advent as a time of prayerful preparation for the Lord?
I recommend the traditional Advent calendar. These calendars, which you can find at most bookstores or online, usually feature a series of dated doors or pockets that you open, one per day, usually from the first of December until Christmas day. They come in hundreds of different styles, but the ones I prefer have a scripture verse for each day.
Many families make it part of their evening ritual to open the day’s calendar entry and say a brief prayer together. It’s hard to imagine a more effective counterpoint to the commercialism of the holiday shopping season than a few moments of quiet prayer at the end of each day.
If your local stores don’t carry Advent calendars, there are many available from online retailers. You can find many free online Advent calendars.
Note: The team at Burning Hearts Disciples has compiled a list of our favorite Advent Calendars in a variety of formats below!
Fr. Rice is vocations director for the Paulist Fathers.
Our Favorite Advent Calendars
Traditional Advent Calendar
This is the Advent calendars with the little doors that have Scripture passages written inside along with a chocolate treat! This one is a particularly good value.
Pocket Style Advent Calendar
These Advent calendars have little pockets instead of doors. It's more expensive, but is reusable each year. This one comes with velcro affixed stuffed figures that are removed from the pockets and added to the scene each day of Advent. The final Nativity scene depicts the birth of Jesus as the Star of Bethlehem guides you closer to this holy day. Some parents also choose to include a candy/treat and/or Bible passage in each pocket as well.
Printable Advent Calendar for Adults
The USCCB Advent calendar can help you fully enter in to the season with daily activity and prayer suggestions to prepare you spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ.
BONUS: This Advent Calendar starts on November 27 instead of December 1 - encompassing the full season of Advent.
Printable Advent Calendar for Families
This calendar from Loyola Press includes a small action that kids of all ages can do each day to prepare their hearts for Jesus.
Online/Web Based Advent Calendar
Busted Halo's digital twist on the traditional Advent calendar brings a sense of surprise by showing you the whole calendar, but not letting you “open” each day and find out what’s behind the picture until that day comes along. Each day, the link will lead you to a special Advent-themed Daily Jolt and MicroChallenge.