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German designs advent calender for Indian festivals


An Advent calender, one of the traditional ways of embracing the spirit of Christmas, has now been customised for India by a German entrepreneur, who also plans to use the idea for festivals like Diwali and Baishakhi.

While houses warm up to Christmas decorations of fairy lights, wreaths, trims, nativities and an adoring Christmas tree, the holiday fervor can also be tracked in a 25-day calendar marking the time before X-Mas day.

The history of Advent calendars traces itself to the 18th century and was initially a Protestant traditional and which has now become an indispensable part of Christmas celebrations across the globe.

“It is a box with 24 or 25 windows, basically a countdown to Christmas that starts on the first of December and you open day by day a box, one window per day and behind every day there is a chocolate,” says Veramaria, a German who has designed a range of customised Advent calendars gift boxes in India.

part from placing a chocolate in each window, the boxes, planned as a gifting option, also sports an interesting quiz in the modified calendar.

“When I presented Advent calendars to my friends in India, they thought they were nice chocolate boxes. They didn’t realize it’s much more than that. They didn’t see the numbers on the boxes. So, I thought it would be a great to introduce in India such an old tradition that we have in Germany,” says the designer

“For India I added an educative aspect. Not only did I put chocolate inside but also included questions about Christmas tradition. These questions are more international and fun questions to learn about Christmas,” says the crafts woman.

Since Advent is celebrated only among a small section of  Indians, the challenge was to make the calendars more relatable to an Indian milieu.

The cover of the boxes has interesting Indian motifs interspersed with German images like a Mercedes Benz, children on sleigh, beer mugs, churches etc.

“I tried to make it fun and tried to add Indian images, the colours are brighter. There is a lotus flower, a Taj Mahal and a diya also with children on the sleigh, Mercedes Benz.

“I tried to make it more appealing for Indians since they are not familiar with Advent calendar concept. So, I wrote ‘Start on December 1′ on the box which you don’t have to do in Germany or other countries,” she says describing her bright pink Advent calendar gift box.

However, she has also designed a more macho cover for the boys where Santa Claus is seen riding a Harley Davidson motorbike.
Pointing out that the cover of gift boxes represented Indo-German bonhomie, the designer says she has stressed on creating images that brings out the message.

“I have put the image of Delhi metro on the cover. The images are all impressions I have had of India and also German cities. There are also angels with Indian and German flags,” adds Vera.

Adding an innovate feature of a quiz in an Advent calendar, she says, required a lot of understanding about the Indian context.

“It’s a tool to educate in a fun way. Questions include those like where is Santa Claus’s workshop located. I’ve also written a nativity story in the back of the box and ‘A countdown to Christmas’ guide. It’s important to open one window a day but everyone cheats,” she quips.

The absence of an Advent tradition, says the designer, presented major roadblocks in introducing the product in the country.

“Nobody knew what I was talking about when I wanted to manufacture the product in India. So, I had to make a prototype in Germany and then finally I found a manufacturer in India. Hence, the box has the message, ‘Made in India, designed in Germany’,” says the German.

The designer has also attempted to recreate similar countdown gift boxes for other festivals like Diwali and Baisakhi.

“I want to create these religious traditions in a fun context,” she says.

The rich tradition of Advent calendar cuts across all ages and says Veramaria can be enjoyed by young and old alike, emphasizing that the story telling feature of her product can add to the fun of knowing more about Christmas.

“It’s not a child’s game, it’s for everybody. You can give the product to your family, parents. You can open it on the breakfast table and open the boxes with everybody and enjoy it. And the questions then add to the fun of learning about Christmas as it adds a story telling aspect which isn’t there in the Advent calendars. This is a new innovation,” adds Vera.

Ideally supposed to be gifted before the Advent seasonticks off, the gift boxes can be given any time before the
Christmas day.

“We give it people in the last week November but sometimes people come to me on 10th of December for an advent calendar. So, then you are happy to open ten windows at once and open the remaining ones day by day. What I like about the countdown is that it is not a onetime experience; you open one window and continue with the Christmas spirit,” says the German.

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