The Student and the Sugar Cone

First Day of School

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The German year begins on the first of September. Everybody knows that. People return from their long summer vacations and let the working routine take over again.

For thousands of children, the date is also marked in the family calendar with an important event to come: the first day of school. As it brings the everyday and special events together, the first day of school is a joyful tradition for many families.

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The new students hoist their carefully packed unicorn/ dinosaur school bags and walk their way to school for the first time. It’s a path that they will take for at least the next four years. Often, the whole family joins them on the ceremonial walk.

Everyone is dressed up and the outfits are often planned to perfection. Women usually wear late-summer dresses or blouses and the men picked out a neat collared shirt.

At a day, where excitement and nervousness go hand in hand, the children don’t have to face the challenge of transition alone. The whole family accompanies them in the auditoriums, where the new class is trying to find their place.

After a welcoming speech by the principal and performances by older students (e.g. poems, songs, skits), the children are called on stage one by one to shake their new class teachers hand for the first time. One last goodbye-wave to the summer they had before they say “hello” to the new challenges and expectations as they leave the stage together. This exact moment marks the collective start into their school life and the first step towards independence.

But not just for the students is it a significant day. The teachers begin a journey with about 30 students and the first impression is significant for the students’ motivation to learn and actively participate in class. To send the children back to their families with the feeling of accomplishment, they already experience their first lesson. It’s very popular to begin the class with a group activity and eventually teach the first letter “A”.

After their first class, the students rush back to their parents and the air fills with giggles and “ah”s and “oh”s as their families hear about their class and study the schedule.

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Specific to the German culture is the “Zuckertüte” (or “Schultüte”), a decorated paper cone, which is handed to the children by the parents as a sign of a new start (or as a consolation before the serious side of life kicks in) after the ceremony. As it used to be filled with apples, buns and chocolate in its early beginnings in the 18th century, the surprise cone is now overflowing with candy, school utensils as well as toys.

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How does the first day of school start in your country? Feel free to share in the comment section below. 😀

Sources:
Brauchwiki: “Einschulung- der erste Schultag”.     URL: http://www.brauchwiki.de/Einschulung_-_der_erste_Schultag (04.09.2017)
Kate Müser: “Die Schultüte: Wie der Schulanfang in Deutschland gefeiert wird”. URL: http://www.dw.com/de/die-schult%C3%BCte-wie-der-schulanfang-in-deutschland-gefeiert-wird/a-19492315 (04.09.2017)

 

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