Beer Advent Calendar: Spiritual Tool or Sacrilege?

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Image copyright Lisa M. Hendey

Image copyright Lisa M. Hendey

Last night, I was minding my own business in the adult beverage aisle of my local warehouse store when it popped out at me: the Beer Advent Calendar.

I’d already walked past the artificial Christmas trees and toy aisles and had noticed an entire section of gift cards in bulk. Since I’m not one of those “decorate early” types, it had been pretty easy for me to ignore the coming of the “holiday season” so far this month. I’d even been largely blissfully unaware about the dreaded Starbucks cup situation.

But when I saw the 2015 Beer Advent Calendar there mammothly sitting on the shelf, I have to say I immediately stopped in my tracks. My first thought was to reach out to my good friend Sarah Vabulas, author of The Catholic Drinkie’s Guide to Homebrewed Evangelism for a consult. Sarah’s my “go to” consultant for all things beer related. But she’s also one of the most faith-filled women I know. Her advice convinced me to avoid putting the huge box into my already overstuffed shopping cart.

But then I took the next step of taking a photo and sharing the Beer Advent Calendar on social media. And as it turned out, quite a conversation ensued in a few different places. A few clicks led me to the Beer Advent Calendar’s own Facebook page, which already has over 4,500 likes.

All this Beer Advent Calendar media mania started me thinking about the various other odd Advent calendars I’ve seen like the Lego ones that come in many various themes, the Christmas Beard Oil Advent Calendar (I’m not kidding!), or the Personalized Dog Bone Advent Calendar. Somehow, counting down the days of December has become a cottage industry.

What are we Catholics–who actually begin the Advent season this year on Sunday, November 29thto make of all of these various ways of marking the season? Are they good fun, intended to personalize our excitement for the coming holiday? Or are they yet another sign of the commercialization of a sacred holy season?

Are they a spiritual tool to share our faith in fun and creative ways, or a sacrilege and a disrespect of something sacred?

The helpful website Catholic Culture, in an article on the history of Advent, calls Advent calendars one traditional way to anticipate Christ’s birth. So is there a difference between using a calendar with small doors which open to reveal a piece of chocolate and using one which offers 24 microbrews? Perhaps I would have been more tempted to purchase the Beer Advent Calendar if it had featured a scene of the nativity on the front of the box instead of a German street scene…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my basic question: is the Advent Beer Calendar a spiritual tool (a way to share our faith with others during the season of Advent), or a sacrilege (something that violates the sacred)? Tell me what you think in the comments here, or vote in my Twitter poll here. I’ll share my “take” in the comments below after a few others have chimed in, so comment if you want to hear what I really think.

Copyright 2015 Lisa M. Hendey

 

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

5 Comments

  1. For the record, I call this one a “spiritual tool” – anything that gives me the opportunity to share with a friend who might ask “What’s Advent?” or “Why an Advent calendar?” gives me a way to share my faith in a way that builds bridges. We can have a whole second conversation about the connections between beer and faith… and that will let me point friends to the awesome Catholic Drinkie website http://www.catholicdrinkie.com/ – I’m hoping others will comment here too!

  2. I still maintain that it would be much more fun to assemble your own. Maybe Catholic Drinkie could help with a list! The “chocolate” in those Advent calendars is usually pretty awful, so I’d be skeptical about the quality of the beer.

  3. I saw one like this on Facebook, and I admit, I chuckled. I thought, “I’ll have to do this for Paul,” my husband. But then, on further reflection, if Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ, then what we really ought to do it give up the beer, or make some other acts of self-denial if you’re not a beer drinker, in anticipation of our Savior. I hesitate to call it a sacrilege – don’t want to be a Scrooge. My idea is take the same idea and celebrate the 12 days of Christmas instead. I know it’s half the beer, but do we really need the calories?! After all, Advent is a time of preparation; Christmas is a time for celebration! I off to find a nice 12 pack to decorate in a box for my husband…1 Christmas gift done!

    • Kelly, I love that 12 Days idea and will likely quote you in my interview this morning on this! My point with this is that it’s something that has gotten us talking about Advent. You’re absolutely correct that Advent is a season of prayerful preparation… for me this isn’t really a conversation about the beer, but more about the various ways in which we can open a conversation about Advent. But I love that 12 days idea!!

  4. I suppose it’s not too much more sacrilegious than an advent Calendar that opens to a different piece of candy or a toy.

    I think “Kelly Guest” has it going on with her “12 Days of Christmas” suggestion though!

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