Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Advent, advent - mein Kalendar brennt!

I don't know if anyone else feels that they have been bombarded with Advent Calendars this year, or whether it's just me.

Each year, there seem to be new and hugely pricey Advent Calendars piled high at Toys R Us, including an absolute "must-have" (from 10-year-old viewpoint) from Lego Star Wars (very seasonal.)

Then there are those sales promotion jobbies that normally sell for 49 cents in Aldi that are thrust at you by the furniture stores and the like.

And this year, more and more online offerings. I have definitely had them from Telekom and from my bank. The things pop out of every website you attempt to look at like manic Yuletide jacks-in-the-box and have to be carefully negotiated around.

The first Advent Calendars date back over 100 years and were originally for children to "sweeten" the time before Christmas. In terms of behavioural economics, they make a complex concept (time) concrete - how many times must a sleep before Father Christmas comes? It's the same principle as taking a ticket at the deli counter or being told how many people are in front at the Post Office counter. The idea is to make you feel a little less helpless.

Although I am not sure that any parent who gives in to buying a Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar feels less, rather than more, helpless.

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