Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.
So I've scanned the Wiki. And here I was thinking it's all about eating chocolates from little holes in a piece of cardboard with your favourite character on it.
But speaking of eating, here are some pictures of the Christmas markets that we've seen so far. On Saturday afternoon we went by the Böblingen market and had some sweet treats (I'll concede that Nutella on a crêpe is—in fact—pretty amazing), but as it was otherwise uneventful we continued from there to get more practical shopping done. In the evening we visited the Ehningen market which on the whole seemed more gloves-knitted-by-granny rather than scarf-imported-from-China, but either way we just partook of the deliciousness and skipped the stuff.
On Tuesday I ran into the Stuttgart market by accident and wandered around admiring the intricate decorations on the roofs of the stalls. I was also really excited to finally meet a random Japanese person. She said something to her child in the stroller and I spun around to accost her in Japanese. We had a quick chat. That's about it.
I'm sorry to be all unexcited by the markets and Christmas here. Clearly Germany invented everything that people love about Christmas, but I find the merchandise generally uninteresting and I've just come to prefer my family's philosophy on the matter. Gifts are for children. Christmas day is for eating together. Unnecessary shopping is to be avoided. As Stephen Colbert put it, "we are once again spending money we don't have on things we don't need to give to people we don't like". He then proceeds to show shoppers mobbing each other at big sales.
Personally I look forward to some quiet post-Christmas shopping for things we do actually need. Until then I'll just stick with enjoying the Glühwein, thanks.