We hope that you enjoyed our first Infosheet. It provides an overview of the German education system as an introduction to this year’s theme – ‘Arbeitswelten’. Therefore, we thought it was only appropriate to write a blog about our favourite German tradition surrounding the first day of school!
The first day of school is something incredibly special for all children and parents around the world. In Germany it is common for both parents and grandparents to take the little ones to school on their first day and present them with a Schultüte.
So what is a Schultüte and where did it come from?
Literally translated, a Schultüte it is a ‘school-bag’, but really, it’s more of a giant cone made out of cardboard, decorated to reflect the child’s hobbies or favourite things, and filled with goodies!
Before the tradition of the Schultüte started, school students would receive a Brezel (pretzel) on the first day of school from their teacher. Legend said that there was a Brezelbaum (pretzel tree) in the cellar or on the roof of the school and first graders would receive one or two Brezeln after school for the first few days of school; after this, the tree would be empty and the ‘Brezel-Segen’ (pretzel-blessing) would be over. At first, the community covered the costs of the Brezeln, however, eventually parents were asked to pay for them and then, some years later, they had the idea of giving their children something sweeter.
The tradition of the Schultüte can be traced back to the early 19th century around Thüringen (Thuringa), Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt), the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) and the Vogtlandkreis (a county in Sachsen). For example, in the city of Jena (in Thüringen) around 1820, a child would receive a bag from his/ her father filled with sweets from the confectionery shop. The reason behind this was not only to celebrate the first day of school, but also because the first day of school marks the first day in a child’s life when he/ she must start taking responsibility – parents wanted to sweeten the seriousness of life (‘den Ernst des Lebens versüβen’). A few years later, these bags started to take on their cone-shape and thus, the Schultüte was born!
In the early days, Schultüten would be filled with sweets, dried fruits, nuts and similar treats. Nowadays, they still include treats and small toys, but also practical items, such as books, games (e.g card games), vouchers, materials for arts and crafts, audiobooks, key chains (with a house key attached; the first day of school is the first time many children receive their own house key), jerseys (often from their favourite football (soccer) team), fashion accessories for girls (such as colourful hair ties), plush toys, wallets, umbrellas, lunch boxes, drink bottles, good luck charms and many more!
The Schultüte is one of our favourite German traditions – who knows, maybe it’ll become a trend in Australia in years to come?!
You’ll find instructions on how to create your own Schultüte at:
Or watch the following video (in German):
Information retrieved from:
Images retrieved from: