They are no longer only intended for children: in Germany, advent calendars have also become a pleasure for adults.
"While in 2021 the advent calendars still scratched the 100 million euro mark, sales this year will most likely exceed 100 million euros," says Hans Strohmaier from the sweets trade association Sweets Global Network.
The advent calendars are popular with children and adults and are becoming increasingly valuable.
They have been given away more and more frequently in recent years, also from one adult to another.
Eight years ago, the sales of candy manufacturers alone with advent calendars were around 75 million euros.
But the diversity has also increased: the calendars are now filled with almost everything imaginable - with toys, cosmetics and perfumes, healthy vitamins and teas, tools or good deeds.
Overall sales should therefore be a good deal higher.
The market is booming.
Anticipation is the greatest joy, say the vernacular and researchers.
For many people, the Advent calendar is just as much a part of December as are gingerbread, stollen, fairy lights, baking cookies, eating goose or visiting the Christmas market.
According to scientists, the advent calendar, which is now indispensable, is a German invention.
As we know it today, it only came about about 100 years ago.
The first models with a chocolate filling appeared in the mid-1920s, and advent calendars became mass-produced from the 1950s onwards.
Since then, new variations have always been created, whether with chocolate, toys, schnapps, superfood or sex toys, and this has increased recently.
Even today, many families prefer to make their own advent calendars with bags they fill themselves.
Because the calendars of the industry often cost far more than they are worth.
Converted, some chocolate calendars come to unbelievable kilo prices.
Nevertheless, the finished calendars are booming.
According to a representative YouGov survey, an average of 33 percent of adults in Germany say that they don't spend any money on advent calendars.
But 34 percent spend around 11 to 50 euros - for themselves or their loved ones.
12 percent say they spend even more on it.
The cultural scientist Esther Gajek from the University of Regensburg has been dealing with advent calendars for decades and knows a lot about their history: “For a long time, Christmas was a church festival with the Christmas Vespers or Christmas mass as the highlight.
In the 19th century it developed into a family celebration.” The living room, the living room, was staged as a Christmas room: “The giving of presents, especially among the nobility and the Protestant bourgeoisie, became more and more the focus: the door opens, you can see the glowing Christmas tree and the presents underneath.”
Children look forward to this moment.
And because the children showed so much anticipation, from the middle of the 19th century parents thought about objects that would structure the time waiting for the festival, explains Gajek - be it with candles that are gradually lit every day and on Jesus as Light bringers should refer to, as an Advent candle that is burned down to the next mark every day, be it with biblical promises, written on flags or leaves, little pictures to hang up or simply with chalk lines to be wiped away.
Traditionally Christian, this often started with the 1st Advent.
Since its date is always the Sunday after November 26, there could well be 28 surprises by Christmas Eve.
In print for 120 years
According to research, the first printed Advent calendar was made 120 years ago, i.e. in 1902 - by the evangelical bookstore Friedrich Trümpler in Hamburg.
In 1903 the Munich publisher Gerhard Lang followed.
He decided to start with December 1st, regardless of the year, and printed a sheet of 24 pictures that could be cut out and pasted onto a sheet of 24-space blanks.
After the First World War, the Advent calendar became a mass product from the 1920s, although not yet produced in the millions.
The first door calendars appeared, soon also with chocolate.
"The profanation of the motifs happened very quickly," says Gajek - even if up until the 1960s, at least at door 24, a nativity scene with the Holy Family could often still be seen.
"For about 30 years, the trend towards adult calendars has been observed, which is more than the penny Advent calendar that is torn open, eaten and thrown away," says Gajek.
She says: “As researchers, we see Christmas as a festival that is constantly changing and goes along with the fashions of the time.
In the past it was more a religious longing for salvation, today - decoupled from the Christian idea of salvation - it is more of a celebration of the longing for family, peace, harmony and great feelings. "That has remained strong.
"It's all about anticipation, the need for something special, the longing for the extraordinary beyond everyday life - also with objects like the Advent calendar."
In recent years, the trend towards advent calendars as gifts has increased significantly.
In addition to the classic with small chocolates, the food industry is bringing more and more elaborate versions onto the market.
Chocolates, marzipan, fruit gums, vegans or even sausage products are hidden behind the 24 little doors.
There are also calendars with toys or tea, spices, chips, beer, cereals, erotic items, protein products for fitness fans or cosmetics with perfumes, for example, or a "beard event calendar" for men.