Christians who follow the traditional Church Calendar celebrate not only Christmas and the New Year, but a third early winter observance. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, consequently varying in length between 22 and 28 days. Advent 2013 begins December 1 and ends December 24 as usual, making it 24 days long.)
One Advent tradition, not limited these days to practicing Christians, is the Advent Calendar; usually a laminated card or poster with windows that can be opened, one for each day of Advent, revealing symbols or images associated with anticipation of coming Christmas. However, Advent calendar apps to be viewed on a computer, tablet or smartphone are increasingly popular.
Advent was first celebrated by Western Christendom in the 4th Century as a time to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming, which many at the time were convinced was imminent. It was originally known as “little Lent,” because, like Lent, it is a time of repentance, with prayer, fasting, and Confession. Advent celebration gradually spread through the Western Church and expanded to anticipate the Nativity as well.
According to the Blogging Thomas Website, advent calendars first appeared in 19th-Century Germany, when various methods of counting the days between the start of Advent and Christmas Day were used. Advent calendars were introduced to the USA with the assistance of U.S. president Dwight Ike Eisenhower, whose grandchildren took a shine to the idea. The calendar was soon adopted in other countries too, and in the UK chocolates began to appear behind the little doors as soon as rationing would allow. By the end of the 1950s, chocolate advent calendars had appeared, and by the following decade they had become widespread.
Here are some electronic Advent calendars for 2013:
Gourmet Pixel Ltd. has made this one the biggest and best Christmas app for iOS devices. Packed full of features, the app includes a helpful countdown, letting you know exactly how many more days you have to get all those presents for loved ones.
The app is available all year long, yet before the 1st of December each year all of the extra features, jokes, songs, toys, etc. are locked. Once the 1st of December arrives, the fun really starts.
Once the 1st of December arrives, you can open your first window and start unlocking the secrets in this Christmas application.
Also included is a gift list so you can keep track of all your present ideas. You can store the name of the person and the gift idea, then tick it off the list when you’ve bought it.
This app works every Christmas, year after year, so it’s a great value compared to calenders in the shop. Previous users can update to this feature packed version for free.
You will then be able to start opening the windows within the Advent calendar. Each window unlocks a new feature within the app. This will happen every day right through December until Christmas arrives. The developers have added some great hidden treats this year, wallpapers, jokes, festive songs, games, facts and many many more.
- Christmas day countdown
- Advent calender with surprises
- Gift list
- Festive jokes
- Christmas songs
- Wintery wallpapers
Christmas!! is available now for free in the iTunes App Store.
Christmas Advent Calendar for Christian Kids and Schools by Children’s Bible
Christmas Advent Calendar 2013 for iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini or iPod touch is an app that provides a Christian Advent calendar with 25 pictures and Bible quotes. If you are looking for a Christian Advent calendar, this is the app for you; a Bible faithful Advent calendar for children of all ages. Starting on the 1st of December, kids will be able to open the corresponding window every day until Christmas day. In every window you will find an illustration about a moment in the gospels on the Annunciation and the Birth of Jesus with a text and a quotation from the Bible.
The app is aimed to parents feeling the need to teach their children all about Advent and Christmas and kidmins looking for a resource full of stories to explain the meaning of Christmas.
Christmas Advent Calendar 2013 for Christian Kids and Schools by Children’s Bible app offers the following scenes:
- December 1: The prophets announce the birth of Jesus. Is 7:14
- December 2: The people wait. Is 9:2
- December 3: Nazareth. Lk 1:26
- December 4: Mary. Lk 1:27
- December 5: Joseph. Lk 1:27
- December 6: Annunciation. Lk 1:28-31
- December 7: Mary says yes. Lk 1:38
- December 8: Elizabeth. Lk 1:41-45
- December 9: Magnificat. Lk 1:46-48
- December 10: The Roman census. Lk 2:1
- December 11: On the way to Bethlehem. Lk 2:4-5
- December 12: Bethlehem. Mt 2:6
- December 13: The inn. Lk 2:7
- December 14: The shepherds. Lk 2:8
- December 15: Annunciation to the shepherds. Lk 2:9-11
- December 16: The cave. Lk 2:12
- December 17: The choir of angels. Lk 2:13-14
- December 18: The shepherds set off. Lk 2:15
- December 19: The Wise Men of the East. Mt 2:1-2
- December 20: The Jewish Wise Men. Mt 2:4-5
- December 21: The Wise Men of the East set off. Mt 2:9
- December 22: The star stopped over the cave. Mt 2:9
- December 23: The gifts of the Wise Men of the East. Mt 2:11
- December 24: Birth of Jesus. Lk 2:16
- December 25: Mary. Lk 2:19
The app is ideal to use at home, specially for bedtime, or at school, enriching the lessons at the Sunday School.
Content highlights include:
- A different illustration every day from December 1 to Christmas Day.
- A complete Bible teaching resource for Advent and Christmas in 25 illustrations
- For every window, a matching picture and Bible text.
- Sunday school, catholic family, parents, catechists and teachers can open and close the windows before the date to prepare their comments.
Christmas Advent Calendar 2013 is available for $2.99 (USD or equivalent in other currencies) worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Book category and Kids category.
Christmas Countdown: Deluxe Edition (with Advent Calendar and Santa Tracker)
Scottish-based software developers Vasoware offer Christmas Countdown: Deluxe Edition for iOS. It’s not exactly an Advent calendar, but something analogically similar, featuring a suite of tools to use in the run up to the holidays. Count down the days and hours to Christmas, listen to classic Christmas songs, and track Santa’s every move, all while enjoying fluid animations and dynamic weather effects. In keeping with the Christmas spirit, all users get the Christmas Deluxe version for free. This app is a big hit with young children and anyone who eagerly anticipates the holidays, and has already been downloaded thousands of times.
Feature highlights include:
- A countdown the days and hours to Christmas Day
- Santa tracker – rekindle the magic and let your children see where Santa is!
- Classic Christmas songs – for free!
- Real-time clock – use as your main clock
- Fluid animations, crisp sounds and retina display
- Dynamic snow effects and day/night cycle
Christmas Countdown: Deluxe Edition is free and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Entertainment category.
Full Homely Divinity Advent Calendar
The Traditional Anglican Organization Full Homely Divinity says:
“Finding ourselves a bit frustrated by Advent Calendars that are more about Christmas than Advent, we decided to try our hand at creating our own online Advent Calendar. The background for our calendar is a Jesse Tree on an ivory panel from Bavaria, c. 1200, which is now at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Paris.
“As is the case with most Advent calendars, ours begins on December 1st, rather than the First Sunday of Advent. That simply means that in some years you will have to start the calendar a day or two before Advent begins, while in other years, it will not have enough days. Click on the numbers to follow a link for each day of December leading up to Christmas. The numbers beyond the current day are not yet linked to the page of the day. You can look back at days you have missed, but you will have to come back for the days that are still ahead. The Jesse Tree provides one of the themes of the project: the ancient faith history of the people of God as the forebears of the Messiah lived it. The calendar also looks forward to the culmination of God’s plan at the end of time, linking the faith history of the past with John’s grand apocalyptic vision in the Book of Revelation.
You can check it out at fullhomelydivinity.org.