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Advent calendars are unusual in Bulgaria, where Christmas is a major religious holiday. I saw such in German stores and thought, “Well, these are some chocolates because it’s the holidays,” and didn’t think much of it. Since I’ve been in Germany for longer than expected, I’ve noticed that there are more variations and even small gifts inside, so I decided to investigate what they’re for. Is this a new way to rip-off people for Christmas, or is it a long-standing tradition? Here’s what I discovered.

Advent calendars are a German tradition associated with the final 24 days before Christmas in which people make 24 gifts for their loved ones as a way of extending and anticipating the holidays.According to the German Christmas Museum (of course the Germans have such) Gerhard Lang (1881-1974) is considered to be the “inventor” of the printed Advent calendar. As a child he had received 24 cookies sewn onto the lid of a box by his mother and he was allowed to eat one of them every day during the Advent period. Remembering this, he produced the first printed and commercial Advent calendar in 1908. So advent calendars are a really nice way to prepare for Christmas. Such calendars are now available in many countries around the world, and why not look forward to small surprises that brighten the days leading up to the big holidays? Of course, it also implies that Christmas has become excessively commercialized, with the emphasis on gifts rather than the concept of giving and family.

Thinking about it, I had an idea: What about creating an advent calendar of 24 acts of kindness; like helping someone, donating to a charity, or sending a paper greeting card to an old friend or forgotten family member or giving cookies or cake to neighbors? Of course, we can reward ourselves with a nice vintage homemade cookie Advent calendar, which was the original idea.

I’m starting my advent calendar season early by sharing my and my daughter’s cookie recipe with you.

Genuine Mom & Daughter Easy Cookies

  • 2 ¾ cups or 357 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup or 227 g butter
  • 1 ½ cups or 318g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • •1 teaspoon vanilla extract

All of the ingredients should be combined to form a firm cookie dough. Spread it out to thickness depending on whether you prefer crunchy or softer cookies. Should be thinner if you want crunchy cookies. Make whatever shapes you want. Bake at 190°C until lightly golden brown. Keep in mind that these cookies are difficult to resist, and you may find yourself making them frequently.

Photo credit the Author.

It just made me think of another idea: how about sending a cookie with your own recipe to a friend by mail, even if they live nearby?

Also, many elderly people live alone and cannot afford to heat their homes or even eat. Make a list of your elderly neighbors and surprise them with something nice, preferably a meal. The thing that will make them the most happy is actually talking with them, so stay for a few minutes. If you can organize meal delivery to some of the poorest people during the winter, do it but always include a note with a few encouraging words! Encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Millions of lives can be changed by a single act of kindness. Think about the impact of 24 such acts of kindness!