AN online Advent calendar was launched yesterday by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

The website - www.advent - marks the first time the Church of England has launched a national initiative to explore the meaning of Christmas using the internet.

Visitors to the site will be able to click on a different virtual window on each day of Advent.

Behind the window there will be a photograph and words from Christians interviewed for the calendar.

They range from a paramedic from Carlisle, to a donkey sanctuary owner in Oxfordshire.

The first window, which opened last night, features the words of Dr Sentamu.

He wrote: "Advent is like a hungry man waiting for a fabulous feast. Christmas comes with a sense of longing being fulfilled and hopes being met.

"As a cook, I love Christmas Day. As the aroma of the food wafts through the house it reminds everyone that there's a good meal coming."

"Advent is like the aroma of Christmas, reminding us of the day when God will invite us all to join Him in the best banquet ever."

More than 100,000 people are expected to visit the website before it is shut down on Sunday, January 7, the end of the Christmas period.