Santa's using video chat, apps and GPS tracking (via Bing and other partners) to stay in touch with kids, so it makes sense that kids are counting down to his arrival on digital too.
The origin of the Advent calendar dates from 19th century German Lutherans with the first known one being handmade in 1851. Advent is observed in Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The word is anglicized from the Latin adventus, meaning "coming." In recent years, like everything else, the tradition has gone digital.
And this year, digital advent calendars aren't just for kids, as brand marketers have adopted them; a few examples that have crossed our radar:
• British dessert brand Gü is inviting fans via Facebook to open the fridge that is its digital advent calendar. “This Christmas we wanted to reward our loyal pud lovers and social media communities with a fun, very Gü twist on the traditional advent calendar," says Gü’s Global Creative manager, Lizzie Hanbury-Tenison. "Thanks to some very generous brand partners we have been able to pull together some fantastic prize collaborations made even more entertaining by daily video clues featuring our very own Head Chef, Fred Ponnavoy.”
• French fashion designer/enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier’s 2013 advent calendar, which aims to be more naughty than nice and can be found on his website. Visitors can open up to three random pockets daily and then three more when they share the experience on Facebook or Twitter, with prizes and a special gift to be revealed on Christmas Eve.
• The Economist's advent calendar offers a collection of the 24 most popular maps, charts, data visualizations and interactive features published on its website in 2012. One door is available every day until Christmas Eve, when the most popular infographic of 2012 will be revealed, along with a new graphic behind door number 25 as a Christmas gift to all their readers who've been good this year.
• The UK's Love magazine received almost a million hits last year for its first digital advent calendar, so it's back with more saucy Christmas wishes in its digital advent calendar, which kicked off with a Calvin Klein-clad Cara Delevingne as its December 1 star. Each day brings a new model and a new video such as Day 11’s Cara Paget.
• British high street retailer Whistles is inviting fans to check in regularly for its calendar filled with daily prizes and, of course, fashion. Social media siren Liberty London Girl is tweeting to promote the two biggest prizes: “a trip to Paris for two, including two nights in a 5-star Tablet hotel and a gift voucher to spend in the new Whistles concession in Printemps department store. Or a trolley dash in your nearest Whistles store, so you can race around the store and grab all the things you’ve been lusting after in one fell swoop.”
• Brit pop star Robbie Williams has augmented his digital advent calendar with augmented reality, inviting fans to point their smartphones at the artwork for his new album to download fresh videos daily, and contribute their own versions of the album cover for ‘Take the Crown.’
• And finally, more traditionally, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s website offers its digital version replete with prayers, readings and reflections to get Catholics into the spirit of Christmas. Videos, podcasts, daily bible verses and mass readings along with an “ask a priest” section for those in doubt or seeking a friendly ear, plus links to papal reflections on saints like St. Nicholas, whose feast days are a cause for celebration during Advent. The Archdiocese’s Communications Director Katrina Lee says, “you won’t find a chocolate or a treat, but a video message with a thought: "Advent is a time to take time, to slow down, and open up."
Is this only a European (and Aussie) phenom? Let us know your favorite digital advent calendar this season in the comments below.