There are 5 things at work here making advent calendars enjoyable. Possibly 6 if you enjoy searching for the number. Can’t say we ever liked that bit.
Not everyone likes surprises. Depends on the surprise. In our hunter gatherer days, surprises often meant danger. Like, lion. ‘SURPRISE!’ More often than not, people will choose to shop or eat somewhere because they’ve been before, and they know exactly what to expect.
That being said, we are also naturally curious creatures that love to explore. From 6 months old, we’re keen to see what’s behind, or underneath. Our modern brains enjoy being entertained by a little intrigue. And there’s nothing like a little mystery to focus our attention on.
Counting down the days builds excitement. Anticipation is huge. ITS CHRISSSTMAAASS! But how can we contain all this excitement? How can we possibly focus on anything else? As strange as it sounds, Advent calendars also help us feel in control. Organised fun. It keeps excitement in check because we know where we are.
Opening each little door as you go along completes a stage. It’s like a little milestone or task being checked off. We even get a little treat and earn a new badge (Admittedly, today’s badge could be a lame candle). But It feels like progress. Our brains feed us feel-good chemicals when we make progress.
Perhaps the most obvious one. Small mammals will continuously push the button if it dispenses food. Only a few hundred years ago, food was scarce for the majority of the world’s population. Our brains haven’t caught up yet. Maybe it’s food. Maybe it’s gin. Maybe it’s lipstick. But I’m still a happy squirrel.