Tradition: How Germans celebrate a child’s first day at school – Einschulung Posted by Sandra Rösner on Nov 22, 2011 in Culture, People, School, Traditions
A friend of mine, who studies French, is currently in France, where she teaches French students German. In one of her first lessons she wanted to find out to what extend the students were able to communicate in German, so she showed them a picture and asked them to describe what they could see. Although the students were able to describe the picture they were not able to make out and label a Schultüte (paper cone). Eventually, it turned out that there is not a similar festive event for Schulanfänger (school starters) in France as it is in Germany. This made me ponder on whether other countries do also not celebrate this day in the way we Germans do. Thus, I decided to share this German tradition with you.
When children in Germany enter school they are not merely send to the school building on their very first day and immediately start to have lessons. Zuallererst (in the first instance), German ABC-Schützen (abecedarians) celebrate a huge party on the weekend before another school year officially starts. Dazu (for that to happen), the whole family and friends of the family are invited.
The Einschulung (enrollment event) basically consists of two parts. In the morning, the actual Einschulungszeremonie (enrollment ceremony) takes place. The child and her/his parents as well as close family members, usually siblings and grandparents, accompany the child to school where they are received by the Schuldirektor (principal) and den zukünftigen Klassenlehrern (the prospective class teachers).
It is a common practice that the principal gives eine Begrüßungsrede (a welcome address) in the Aula (assembly hall) and that older students perform some songs and poems. According to Wikipedia, these older students are usually Drittklässler (third-grade students) and Viertklässler (fourth-grade students). After the ceremony, the parents and family congratulate the child on their enrollment and the children are given the Schultüte (lit. school cone/bag), which is also called Zuckertüte (lit. sugar cone/bag). The cone is basically filled with sweets. Therefore, the alternative name ‘sugar cone’. But it can also contain jeglichen Schulbedarf (any school supplies), for example, Füller (fountain pens), Lineale (rulers), and Radiergummis (erasers), as well as Spielzeug (toys). Unfortunately, I cannot recall what I had found in my Schultüte, since this is much too long ago.
After that, the ceremony continues in einem kleinen Kreis (a small circle). The children follow their class teachers to their classroom where they may also get a small Willkommensgeschenk (welcome gift) and are handed out the Stundenplan (class schedule). Before the children can finally head back home they need to pose for a photograph in front of the black board and another one in front of the school with their Schultüten in hand.
When this roller-coaster ceremony is over the child may eventually celebrate ‘school entrance’ im Kreise der Familie (in the family circle). How people celebrate thereafter can vary. Some families go out eating in Restaurants and others are taking coffee at home.
Although I can hardly remember my own Einschulung I can recall that I liked it to be given the Schultüte and I was indeed convinced that I would get a Zuckertüte at the beginning of every school year. So, I almost burst with anticipation during my first summer vacation but eventually, I had to realize that this is not so, and I was very, very sad that I had not gotten one when my second year in school began.
Are there any special customs in your country that are similar to that?
die Schultüte – paper cone
der Schulanfänger (m) / die Schulanfängerin (f) – school starter
die Schulzeit – school time
zuallererst – in the first instance
der ABC-Schütze (m) / die ABC-Schützin (f) – abecedarian
Dazu… – for that to happen
die Einschulung – enrollment
die Einschulungszeremonie – enrollment ceremony
der Schuldirektor (m) / die Schuldirektorin (f)– principal
der Klassenlehrer (m) / die Klassenlehrerin (f) – class teacher
die Begrüßungsrede – welcome address
die Aula – assembly hall
der Drittklässler (m) / die Drittklässlerin (f) – third-grade student
der Viertklässler (m) / die Viertklässlerin (f) – fourth-grade student
die Schultüte / die Zuckertüte – paper cone
der Schulbedarf – school supplies (uncountable noun in German, thus, only singular)
der Füller – fountain pen
das Lineal – ruler
der Radiergummi – eraser
das Spielzeug – toy
im kleinen Kreis – in a small circle
das Willkommensgeschenk – welcome gift
der Stundenplan – class schedule
im Kreise der Familie – in family circle