Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Calendars Go Virtual

advent wreath Do you have an Advent calendar? Sisterfilms sent me an Advent calendar greeting card, which is waiting patiently on the mantelpiece until tomorrow, when I can start opening a window each day. But did you know that there are many online or “virtual” Advent calendars available? Some are religious, some secular in nature; some educational and some just silly fun. I’ve tested all the links below, so you can check them out and bookmark your favorites. (Warning: don’t try to visit all of them each day. You won’t get anything else done!) By the way, traditionally Advent calendars begin on December 1st and can be reused in any year. Some of the church-based ones below began on the first Sunday of Advent, which was November 29th this year.

Beliefnet’s 2009 Advent Calendar: Began with November 29th, which had a number of links to information about Advent and a quiz about how stressful your Advent might be. Day Two also has a quiz and some discussion of the Nativity story. Beliefnet’s Christianity section includes many different perspectives.

Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C.: This calendar, posted in 2007, features figures from the National Cathedral’s international collection of creches or Nativity scenes with pictures and descriptions. There are also links to a daily meditation and the Daily Office (Bible readings). Sadly, the Carol of the Day link is broken.

Musical Advent Calendar from the German Embassy to the UK, 2006: The more musically adventurous among you may enjoy this, which has techno and other alternative renderings of German Christmas carols. And there’s also this one, I think from 2007, with a snowman theme and some of the same musicians.

From a teacher and artist in Melbourne, Australia comes this Australian Advent calendar full of inspiration for art projects as well as meditations that are uniquely Australian. I know I have some friends and readers who would like this one.

Angels We Have Heard Are High, and the Cavalcade of Bad Nativities parts 1 and 2 which you can get to from the sidebar of Angels… are not exactly an Advent calendar, but fun to look at. Posted during Advents past by the blogger at Going Jesus, they are amazing examples of “Christian kitsch” that will either horrify you or make you laugh. Give ‘em a try. I don’t know whether she’s doing something similar this year, there’s a lot going on in her life right now.

If you have any Czech ancestry or just an interest in customs of other lands, try the Czech Advent Calendar with information for each day. It’s from Radio Prague.

In England, it appears to me, there is religious education in the public schools, and a website to help teachers with resources. It’s called REEP (Promoting Links between Religions and the Environment) and is just full of great things, including their Advent calendars with a different theme each year. There are quizzes, puzzles, riddles, and other interesting things that are fun for grownups as well as kids. Another educational site from the UK with an Advent calendar is this one from Woodlands Junior School in Tonbridge, Kent.

Castle Arcana’s Christmas site has not only an Advent calendar to “color,” but A Christmas Carol acted out by cartoon guinea pigs – how can you resist?

Nur auf deutsch: (only if you can read some German) is this very pretty Advent calendar which tells, in German, about Christmas customs in many lands.

The New York Carver website has a lovely Medieval Advent Calendar with information and links about medieval art, history and so on. The whole site looks like one it would be fun to visit, including a Virtual Cathedral.

Pagan or Wiccan and feeling a little left out? Or just want to see some lovely pictures of ancient British sites? Try the Yule/Solstice Advent Calendar. Stonehenge and other sites are featured.

The site at german.about.com has a lot of German information, including, posted in 2007, an Advent Calendar which is low on graphics but high on information. For some Swiss flavor, try this calendar showing decorated windows in Swiss villages.

Lots of people home-school for a variety of reasons. Those who are doing it for religious reasons, or want to carry on some religious education at home, will enjoy TeachingMom’s Advent Calendar. I like that she points out that you can use the calendar year after year and will not be doing every activity every year! Just take what you can use and leave the rest.

Have a toddler or pre-schooler who’s getting fussy because Mom or Dad is on the computer? Take a break and show him/her one of these sites which feature a simple animated scene for each day: Greeneyesz, put up in 1999 and rather slow loading, but cute; Rooney Design is a little livelier and has music; Boowakwala.com – is this a cartoon character I don’t know about? and Billy Bear for Kids has games and such.

A couple more that I wasn’t able to preview because it’s not December 1st yet, but which look good though simple, are Greg’s Advent Calendar (he has a whole Christmas site of which this is part) and Dionaea’s Advent Calendar (NOT for children or the easily shocked) – if you try to click an upcoming date you get scolded! This calendar is another one that won’t open until tomorrow.

My old friend the Guardian newspaper in Britain has an Advent calendar that’s a little on the goofy side with animation.

I’m slightly hesitant to recommend this next because I had a little trouble loading it – some of the pictures showed up only as those annoying little Windows placeholders. However, you may have better luck or a newer computer or something, so don’t give up without trying this activity calendar from the UK.

For several years I’ve enjoyed the Advent calendars that tell a story about Tate the cat. Maybe you will too! If so, the older editions are still online as well as this year’s story.

We’ve seen medieval art, now for some Renaissance art. The useful and interesting Artcyclopedia site has an Advent Calendar with Renaissance representations of the Nativity and information about the paintings and artists.

As far as religious-themed Advent calendars go, nearly all I found that were denominational were either Catholic or Episcopalian/Anglican. Here are some: First a calendar from a site that doesn’t mention any specific denomination, but is OK with Phyllis Tickle and Marcus Borg so is not terribly conservative, Exploring Faith. Its Advent Calendar has a brief thought for each day; the site has many other resources for Advent as well. Some Roman Catholic sites: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops – I disagree with them on so much, but they do seem to care about the poor; a calendar from the University of Dayton, focusing on Mary and other women of the Bible; a calendar from St. Margaret Mary Parish in Naperville, IL; a calendar from Trinity Church Wall Street in New York. Edited to add: LutheranChik recommended the beautiful Advent calendar from Mission St. Clare.

Whew! Have I left any out? If you run across an online Advent calendar I haven’t mentioned, please send me the link and tell me something about it. And have a blessed Advent!

(The photo of the unusual Advent wreath, which appears to function as an Advent calendar, is from amras_de, a contributor to Flickr.)

Since I needed to do a little editing anyway, I can't resist pointing out the Punk Rock Advent Calendar, which allows a free download of a Punk Rock Christmas song every day. Very unusual!

2 comments:

Mompriest said...

No idea that there were so many on line resources for Advent calendars

louiev said...

Thanks for featuring our video Advent Calendar on the Net and Yes we are open as of today (Dec01)! Stop by if you get the chance - http://holidays.net/adventcalendar/.

Thanks again and Happy Holidays!