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Tradition: How Germans celebrate a child’s first day at school – Einschulung Posted by 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?

 

 

Vocabulary:

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

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About the Author:Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


Comments:

  1. HOUHA Abdelhak:

    Andere Länder, andere Sitten.
    Danke!

  2. Dr. Kurt R. Fiedler:

    JA,LANGE IST ES HER, SO 1934

  3. Dr. Kurt R. Fiedler:

    JA,LANGE IST ES HER, SO 1934 –MIT MEINEM SCHULANFANG IN KOSPA BEI EILENBURG IN SACHSEN,MITTELDEUTSCHLAND.
    AUCH ICH DENKE GERN AN DIE GROSSE ZUCKERTUETE MIT SCHOKOLADE UND SPIELZEUG!
    HABE SOGAR NOCH EIN FOTO VON DIESER ZEIT!
    DANN GINGS ZUM STUDIUM NACH BERLIN,SPAETER NACHUSA WO ICH BEI ANNAPOLIS SEIT 1955 MIT FAMILIE LEBE.
    AUF WIEDERSEHEN DR, FIEDLER

  4. Nina:

    Leider nicht. 🙁 Die Schulanfänger in Deutschland sind glücklich.

  5. Sue Lajeunesse:

    This is a very informative site for me. I am canadian and my son and daughter-in-law who is from Leipzig moved to Leipzig in sept. 2013. It has been very difficult for me to find out about the customs and to communicate with people in Germany as German is their 1st language and it seems they do not want to speak English, perhaps because they are not comfortable. I would like to find out as much as I can about this starting school custom as my husband and I plan a visit to Leipzig around this event as it seems to be an important custom. What is the role of the grandparent. What gifts are we expected to give. Oma and Opa have purchased the backpack. What do the canadian grandparents do? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Debapriya Das:

    Hello,
    Nice writing on this great event. I am an Indian and right now living in tübingen Germany. On my first year during September one day I found many small children in the streets with their family and a big sugarcone nn their hand. I was very much surprised to see and from a german friend got to know that it was their first day at school. It’s such a beautiful custom. A little boy or girl who is just out of the kindergarten playing around whole day will be introduced to studies for the first time. And the new beginning is made memorable so beautifully with every family member’s presence.
    In my country the day was not special other than getting new school dress and other school accessories. I wish this it would be really nice if this custom is adopted in other countries too. Thanks Germany, got to see a wonderful event with little kids.

  7. Marian Baranowski:

    Ich bin 1955 eingeschult worden .und Ich habe noch photos ,,,die zeit vegeht so schnell