The REAL Advent Calendar
The tradition of the Advent Calendar did not begin in the early 1900's in Austria as most people think. The first Advent Calendars were published in America in l922 but the actual tradition of opening small number doors during the 25 days before Christmas began in 1751 in Wunderlin Switzerland. These Swiss calendars were elaborate finely carve wooden boxes with tiny wooden doors each hiding a piece of chocolate in a small cubby. On the last day of November the children of the family (or classroom) were gathered around the Advent Calendar as a small burrowing bug called a "vanderplanki" was dropped through a hole in the top of the box. The hole was then corked and the box shaken by all the children and then left alone for 24 hours. This allowed the insect to burrow its way inside one of the many sweets.
Beginning December first each child was told to open the corresponding door and quickly eat the candy therein. The vanderplanki had an oily bitter taste and the whole family would wait to see if the child made the "Planki Face."
This version of the Advent Calendar arrived in England in 1910. The tradition became that a child who found the "vanderplanki", which by this time had been replaced by horseradish, must have been a bad child and was being punished by God for their sins and received no presents that year. The Church of England abolished this practice in 1913 when a clergy was beaten to death, in Suessx, by his own church congregation for endangering children.
A little known prayer was memorized by the children of that day.
Gentle Jesus, mild and meek
Let this be a tasty treat
May I not make the devil's face.
Lest my gifts the angels take.