surefish Advent Calendar
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Date: 22 November, 2007



'For Advent you can have an fair trade chocolate calendar or even a Lego one.'

From Stir-Up Sunday to Epiphany, we present the surefish Advent Calendar. By Suzanne Elvidge

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Sunday 25th November

The Sunday before Advent is Stir-Up Sunday, from the opening lines of the collect, and it’s time to make your Christmas pudding.

Friday 31st November

Advent begins tomorrow – have you got an ethical Advent calendar ready? If it has to be a chocolate one, make sure it’s fair-trade, for example from Divine. You could always make a Lego one.

Saturday 1st December

World Aids Day begins December. The UK theme for World AIDS Day 2007 is ‘Understanding Through Communication’, highlighting the importance of using communication to break down the silence around HIV. Christian Aid has resources for World Aids Day. On a Christmassy note, NORAD’s Tracking Santa website begins its countdown (you’ll need Google Earth).

Sunday 2nd December

First Sunday in Advent. Commonground created Tree Dressing Day in 1990. This event, which is held on the first full weekend of December, celebrates trees from the depths of the countryside to the centre of the city. See if there is a Tree Dressing Day in your area.

Monday 3rd December

Can’t think what to buy the person who has everything, or fed up with the furore over each new piece of technology? You’ve just about got time to knit something as a gift – perhaps an iPhone or a plate of sandwiches?

Tuesday 4th December

Have you bought your Christmas cards yet? A report from the Charities Advisory Trust showed that many charity cards give less than 10% of the purchase price to charity. To maximise your donation, buy direct from the charity shops or buy Christian Aid cards online.

Wednesday 5th December

Today Jews celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Play with dreidels (make your own) and eat latkes.

Thursday 6th December

Don’t forget to send a letter to Father Christmas – the NSPCC will help him send you an answer. Because there definitely is a Father Christmas.

Friday 7th December

The first of the last posting days in December – this one is for South and Central America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Far East (except Japan), Australia and New Zealand (airmail). BFPO dates may differ. Have you begun your ethical Christmas shopping?

Saturday 8th December

Today, some Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, commemorating the day that Siddhārtha Gautama experienced enlightenment.

Sunday 9th December

Second Sunday in Advent. Use Christian Aid’s free Christmas resources to inspire everyone at your church with the real meaning of Christmas – it’s about so much more than Xmas trappings. It’s about unconditional love that gave up everything for the poor, the weak and the broken.

Monday 10th December

Today is the last posting day for the USA, Canada, Japan and Eastern Europe (airmail). It’s also Human Rights Day celebrates the anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Tuesday 11th December

If you dig out last year’s Christmas cards, you can start making tags for gifts. This saves you money, and recycles cards (put the left over bits in the compost).

Wednesday 12th December

Why not forget the tired old plastic tree at the back of the wardrobe and try a living tree this year. See if there is a Forestry Commission site near you, as they will plant another tree for every one harvested. Look after it carefully (cut trees or rooted trees). After Christmas, if you have a tree in a pot, plant it out in the garden or put it in a new, bigger pot outside. If you have a cut tree, remember to recycle it – many councils (for example Derbyshire Dales) run recycling schemes.

Thursday 13th December

Now you’ve got your tree, have you thought of making Christmas tree decorations out of ‘waste’? You can use incandescent light bulbs (a good excuse to replace them with low energy bulbs…), old Christmas cards, tennis balls, and loads of other things. Don’t forget, it’s the last posting day for Western Europe (airmail).

Friday 14th December

It’s the last posting day for parcels to the UK, so why not catch the bus (or cycle) to your nearest charity shop for brand new and recycled gifts.

Saturday 15th December

If you leave just your Christmas tree lights on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas, you will produce enough carbon dioxide to inflate 12 balloons – imagine how much every tree in every house (let alone every decorated house) in every street in the UK produces. But even Christmas lights can be eco – look out for LED ones or even solar-powered lights. `

Sunday 16th December

Third Sunday in Advent and Gaudete Sunday. The Salvation Army’s Christmas Present Appeal 2007 closes today – drop off a new, unwrapped gift at a local collection point (contact your local Salvation Army Centre for details – see postcode search for contact details). The gifts will go to children, teenagers and older people.

Monday 17th December

Not got your Christmas cards in time for today’s last posting day for second class letters? Make your own – it’s not just for the kids.

Tuesday 18th December

The deadline to support Christian Aid by giving your friends and family a gift for someone else. Present Aid gifts start at £6 for a reading manual to £3140 for a health worker's salary. And don’t forget my favourite, a can of worms.

Wednesday 19th December

Time to plan the food for Christmas – why not make it a ‘buy local and seasonal’ Christmas, using farmer’s markets and farm shops. Stop the invasion of the foreign sprouts!

Thursday 20th December

Muslims will be celebrating Eid-Ul-Adha (The Festival of Sacrifice), which marks the end of the annual pilgrimage (the Hajj) and remembers Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son. It’s also the last posting day for first class letters.

Friday 21st December

Rather than cooking your own Christmas lunch this year, why not help someone else with theirs, by volunteering to help at Crisis Open Christmas in London. Nearly the very last posting day – Special Delivery (Saturday guarantee).

Saturday 22nd December

The absolute last posting day, for Special delivery items. Still not done your Christmas shopping? They will have to be virtual ones now – many eco websites have email gift vouchers, including Really Wild Flowers, TreeTwists (with a tree planted in your recipients name), LoveLula Organic Apothecary, and Nigel’s Eco Store.

Sunday 23rd December

Fourth Sunday in Advent. Have you got an enormous frozen turkey in your freezer? Today is the day to begin defrosting it – and make really sure it is thawed all the way through.

Monday 24th December

'Twas the Night Before Christmas – if you’ve forgotten to send any Christmas cards, now’s the time to get emailing! You can support UK charities too – Marie Curie Cancer Care, NCH, Cancer Research, or NSPCC, or visit nocardsthanks.

Tuesday 25th December

Christmas Day – Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus. Here begins the 12 days of Christmas, starting today and finishing on the morning of 6 January (Epiphany). On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree– perhaps partridge with pear and parsnips for supper?

Wednesday 26th December

Boxing Day. On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves. Put out some seeds to attract doves to your garden.

Thursday 27th December

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French hens. Petite poussin might be a change from leftover turkey.

Friday 28th December

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds. The original version of the song is about ‘colly’ or blackbirds.

Saturday 29th December

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five gold rings. If you are giving gold this Christmas, think about recycled or second hand rather than newly-mined gold, which can be environmentally damaging.

Sunday 30th December

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a-laying. Geese might be a bit big, but you could have your own chickens in a very funky Eglu.

Monday 31st December

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming. White chocolate swans might need a bit less looking after.

Tuesday 1st January, 2008 - Happy New Year!

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight maids a-milking. Milk baths worked for Cleopatra and are a great way to deep cleanse your skin.

Wednesday 2nd January

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing. Are you feeling as if you have eaten a bit too much this Christmas – perhaps you could take up dancing, anything from ballroom to belly!

Thursday 3rd January

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten lords a leaping? Been partying hard and doing lots of leaping? There are hundreds upon hundreds of hangover cures on the Internet, but I don’t fancy the idea of raw eel.

Friday 4th January

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping. Bagpipes are a bit loud – maybe eleven bags of crisps would be quieter…

Saturday 5th January

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming – now these really will be loud! Keep the noise down with a finger drum kit!

Sunday 6th January

Epiphany or Twelfth Night – the end of Christmas and the day to take all the decorations down – time to start recycling Christmas.