You might think that this scene is from our miniatures cabinet...
...but actually, it's one of our new Advent calendars! (Can you see the little "20" window next to the shop-keeper's head?)
This year's Advent calendars and cards have arrived, and as usual, they're a big hit with everyone who visits Castle in the Air, not to mention with all of us. We love this tradition, which grew out of different German customs of counting down the December days through Christmas Eve.
Some German families in the early 19th century would make a new chalk mark on their door every day beginning December 1. Others observed Advent each day by hanging a seasonal picture in their home. And other families used candled wreaths or clocks in anticipation of Christmas.
Of course, the most widespread Advent tradition today is that of the paper calendars with windows that open to reveal a sweet little picture for each day of the 24 days. Everyone in my family gets their own calendar to open, and then we have several that we share. In the past few years we've have six to eight calendars going in the days leading up to Christmas, but other years that number's been as high as 16!