Rise of the 'millionaire's advent calendar' undermines Christmas message, say charities

Mason Boycott-Owen
the annual Advent Procession at York Minster - ©2017 Charlotte Graham

Christian groups have spoken out against ‘millionaire advent calendars’ which they argue undermine the Christmas message.

Two advent calendars from well-known jewelers will set you back as much as £100,000.

An advent calendar from Beaverbrooks features a platinum diamond ring worth £26,000 behind one of its doors, while Tiffany’s offering has trinkets worth up to £13,000 in its famous blue boxes.

The display of excess has prompted some Christian groups to bemoan how the festival of Advent is being replaced by ‘base human instincts.’

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, said: "The Christmas message is a timeless message of beauty: of a baby born into a messy world to bring hope and light.

Ms Williams said these advent calendars instead “play to the basest of our human instincts."

Some Christian charities suggested that the vast sums of money could be better spent on helping those in need, with some charities seeing their donations fall in recent years.

Since 2016, the individual donations to Christian Aid has fallen by almost a quarter from £62.6 million to £49.7 million last year.

Deborah Auty from Christian Aid said: “To put the £100,000 advent calendars in perspective, it’s worth remembering that it takes a very small amount to offer hope to communities living in dire conditions globally. 

“For example, the same amount of money could provide safe shelter for over 500 families living in camps in Afghanistan throughout the forthcoming harsh winter.”

Many churches in the UK remain in disrepair as the Christmas season approaches after last year saw a 75% increase in Heritage Crime attacks.

A spokesperson for the National Churches Trust said: “"A gift of £100,000 would be a dream come true for many churches needing urgent repairs as many major building projects cost at least £200,000. 

“Each year we receive many more applications than we are able to fund. 

“With £100,000 we award 20 small grants of £5,000 to help fund urgent maintenance work to ensure that churches are windproof and watertight and able to serve their local communities at Christmas and throughout the winter season."