If you've missed, like myself, to buy or make your Advent calendar before the 1st of December, know that you can still have time to catch up with every French child in Versailles (hey, I can hear you!!! my childhood is not *that* far away!...) Just go in every shop around and you'll find it packed ad nauseam with Christmas decorations, the special Christmas food section already in place since the beginning of November, and INCREDIBLE DEALS of 5-10% off, Christmas specials! So buy fast! Buy it now! Buy often! Or just simply buy! However, know that I advocate self-control and moderation at this time of the year (at least because I strongly believe that any food that can be stored for more than a month in retail shops has something fishy about it, notably an indecent amount of preservatives which is très bad for your health...)
There are a couple of chocolate brands who managed to drown all the others on the market of ready-made Advent calendars, but you can also make your own and it doesn't necessarily have to contain chocolate (I don't quite like chocolate, so it'll be a pleasure to elude it): take a cardboard and cut 24 little windows in it (no, you cannot make only 23 just because you missed the first day! But you get to open two of them the first time, which is the punishment for slackers!). Then number each slit, decorate it as you wish and, the best part, hide behind every one of them little surprises to discover each day until Christmas. Yes, if you place it yourself in there it will be no surprise, that's why it's better to call a friend or ask your puppy do it. I'm afraid that praying will not help create surprise gifts behind those windows either, although it might help with something else, give it a try if you're in lack of ideas!
There's an obvious religious origin, Christian, to this Advent calendar and it is said that it was created about a hundred years ago by devout parents for their children so they, the children, can bear more easily the dull days before Christmas. The efforts one makes to accommodate those little brats!... Nowadays you can still find calendars with strictly religious themes, but more often they're secular, differing in form and aspect from one family to another and containing things ranging from pious images to more earthly occupations. Like the giant Advent calendar offered by the French Soccer Federation at its Paris headquarters (on a 160m² façade) revealing its secrets every day until Christmas, one at a time, patiently, for the greatest plaisir of FFF ardent fans:
Allez, les bleus !!!