Tuesday, 20 August 2013

German Tuesday: Starting School German Style with a "Schultüte"

Summer holdiays are almost over and for many children this means they will soon experience their first day at school ever. I remember my first day at school all too well. I was very excited and also couldn't wait to find out what was in my "Schultüte". But what is a "Schultüte"?
September 1981: Me and some future classmates.
The Schultüte is not just a girl's thing as you can see.
When children in Germany set off for their first day in school upon entering first grade they are presented with a big paper cone - the Schultüte. Even though it translates more as "school bag" the Schultüte has the form of a big cone made out of paper or cardboard. The Schultüte is prettily decorated, filled with toys, sweets, school supplies and various other things and presented to the "i-Dötzchen" (that's what we call the first graders in my native Rhineland - "Dötzchen" being a name for a small child and "i" having been the first letter they would learn how to write in school) by their parents, grandparents or godparents. The Schultüte is either handcrafted or you can buy them in many shops before school starts.
It's official - as an i-Dötzchen you used to get a very fashionable cap.
The Schultüte is almost as big as me.

The tradition of the Schultüte was born in Saxony and Thuringia in Germany and was born around 1817 when the first cone-shaped Schultüte was reported in the city of Jena. The tradition started in the bigger cities but spread quickly to the smaller towns and villages. Back then the Schultüte wasn't directly presented to the child but, marked with the child's name, taken to the school by parents or godparents and in a ritual hung on a metal tree (Schultütenbaum) from which child had to pick their cone without breaking it. The story told to the children goes, that there is a "Schultütenbaum" growing in the school and if the fruits in the cones are ripe and big enough to pick, it's time to go to school for the first time.
Schultüten for sale in a shop. Picture by Ies
Nowadays there are fewer sweets in the Schultüten but more practical gifts such as pencils, crayons and some toys as well.

via wikipedia

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