Advent calendars are a tradition borrowed from Germany. Starting on the 1st of December, they are used to count down the days to Christmas. Commercial Advent calendars can be bought, however, it is still popular to make your own in Norway.
In choosing what calendar to make it is best to think what type of gifts it will hold. Not all Norwegian calendars give a pocket full of lollies. Some display pictures or poems, and others, cooking spices such as cinnamon sticks to inspire the chef for that day. However, handmade is the Norwegian way and they always add a classic charm to any Christmas style.
There are three main styles of Advent calendars in Norway – the hanging, the pockets and the box calendars. The hanging calendar, is just that – a framed structure with presents that hang from it. The structure can be a mini clothes line, a window pane, a twig wreath or even a tree branch (as in the picture above). The presents can hang from pegs, key-rings or ribbons. The presents can hang free, be inside little envelopes or in paper bags or sit in kremmerhus (traditional Norwegian paper sack).
The pocket calendar is common and often allows for bigger gifts. Pockets are sewn onto a large square cloth which is then hung on the wall or in windows.
The box calendar is usually made from little match boxes. Sometimes they are stuck on a large piece of cardboard which is hung on the wall, making little sliding drawers, but most often they are made into a cube by sticking four lots of three (stacked) boxes together, making a cube with two layers (as above).
When making Advent calendars it is best to use natural materials to get that rustic Norwegian feel – felt, cotton, wood, twigs and paper. Keep the colours simple – red and white, brown and gold. Designs include snowflake patterns, stitched hearts, little nisse and layers of material. Extra decorative hangings, such as ribbon and twigs create depth and lighting such as fairy lights or mock LED candles complete the look. Norwegians are very proud of their crafts and go all out to make their masterpieces perfect.
But yes, some busy Norwegians do buy their homemade Advent calendars at the store. As ‘country’, ‘romantic’ and ‘nostalgia’ are in style, it is easy to find a calendar that suits your Christmas.
There is one more calendar that is very popular, made of oranges and cloves. It is easier than pie to make.
What you need:
1 lovely smelling orange
24 cloves with long stalks to mark each day from 1st of December to Christmas
To make, just insert the stalk end of the cloves into the orange. It is a good idea to think of a pattern before you start pushing in the cloves – a heart, zig-zags, a tree, etc. Mine below is very imaginative – straight lines. To make things easier, use a toothpick to mark out your design – the holes also help to put in the cloves. These orange calendars are not only for the kitchen or dinner table, they are great placed around the house in nut-bowls, bauble plates and next to candle ornaments. Each day pull out a clove and refresh the Christmas smell in the room.