Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Imagine an Advent calendar where instead of chocolate, a gift from your favourite café or store is waiting behind its windows.
Photographs: Lisette Olesen
Text: Michaela Medveďová
That's possible with Bykalender (or City Calendar), a physical Advent calendar full of gifts from local businesses. It started in Aarhus in 2017 and spread into cities all over Denmark - including Odense.
Tore True Jensen, the owner and designer of the Odense Calendar, brought the initiative to the Fyn-based city in 2019.
Odensekalenderen prints 3000 calendars a year, and people can buy one for 250 DKK online and in local stores. This year, the calendar contains 25 gifts worth more than 2300 DKK in total. They are donated by 25 companies based in the city - such as Storms Pakhus or Jumping Fun.
"It's a way of giving back to the people who are giving a lot of themselves."
All calendars contain the same gifts, each of which is an excellent way for people to know what their town has to offer. This also supports local businesses as they attract people they normally wouldn't.
When you open a calendar window, it says what the gift is and when you can claim it. Some are valid only in December or January. Others you can use all through February or March. To receive your gift, simply rip off the window and hand it over to the store.
"And it actually is a gift - you don't need to bring any money," says Line Mikkelsen, who covers marketing.
Five percent of every calendar is donated to Frivilligcenter Odense that supports volunteer social work in the city. Last year, the organization received 30,000 DKK. "It's a way of giving back to the people who are giving a lot of themselves. So it makes sense to help those who help others," says Tore.
And if you don't feel like using a particular gift? "You can pass the gift on to a friend and spread some happiness around," concludes Line.
See if you can still find a calendar for this year - or see Odensekalenderen's Facebook page and sign up for the newsletter on their website!