If you have a child going into Grade 1 in Germany, the ‘Einschulung’ and ‘Zuckertüte’ traditions will be at the center of your attention as the new school year begins.
What is it?
Einschulung celebrates the first day of Grade 1 for children in Germany. In Germany, a great deal of importance is placed on this day, and the Einschulung tradition has become a wonderful celebration of children graduating from kindergarten to school.
The Einschulung celebration generally takes place on the first Saturday of the school year. The second and third graders prepare to welcome their new classmates, as they will start at school the Monday before the Einschulung ceremony. The Monday after the Einschuling Saturday is when the official school year begins.
The day consists of two parts: an enrollment ceremony, ‘Einschulungszeremonie’, and a family celebration. The Einschulungszeremonie generally takes place at the school, complete with introductions and songs. After the school celebration, families gather to have lunch together. Some families in Berlin reserve tables for Einschulung lunches months in advance.
No actual classes take place on this day, but the school principal (Schuldirektor) and the class teachers will give a welcome address (eine Begrüßungsrede) to the new pupils and parents. The other second and third class students may even do a small performance of songs or poems to help welcome the new children to the school. After the initial introduction, the children go to their classrooms, without the parents, where they are shown their seats and storage for school bags. After settling in they may have a small lesson and participate in an art project related to Einschulungstag. They will be handed a class plan and maybe even a welcome gift from the class and/or teacher. Class photos will be taken, with their Schultüte in hand, before they are reunited with their parents.
Have you seen these decorative cones around the shops in the summer? These ‘Schultüte’, or ‘Zuckertüte’, cones are a tradition dating back to around 1820. When the tradition began, grandparents or godparents hung the cones full of presents and treats on a “Schultütenbaum” (school cone tree), and the children had to pick their personalised cone from a branch without breaking it. These days the custom remains similar. There might not always be a ‘Zuckertüte’ tree, but the cones are still filled with lots of sweets, school supplies and other things needed for the school year. The level of extravagance is up to the parents filling the ‘Tüte’!
You can buy the cone from craft or office supply stores around town, or you can choose to make your own. In either case parents often personalise the cone with the child’s name and other images important to the student.
On the day of the ‘Einschulung’, the parents will give the child their backpack and their ‘Zuckertüte’. Then, with great pride, the budding Grade 1 student will carry their (often oversized) backpack on their backs and Zuckertüte in hand into school. It is a gorgeous sight to witness the school children all throughout Berlin on this special day.
If your Grade 1 student has a younger sibling, they will usually receive a ‘Mini-Schultüte’. These smaller cones are also easy to find around the shops and ensure that your little one will be very excited to be part of the day, even in a mini way.
After the “Einschulung” – Orientation
Now the party starts. Most families will host a party either at home or out at a café or restaurant. Family and friends will be invited to join as the celebrations of Grade 1 initiation continues. If you do not have many family members in Berlin to join you, invite friends along to celebrate!
If you plan to go out, make sure you reserve a table (maybe even weeks in advance)!
And then it is Sunday! Luckily, you all have this one day to recover from the Einschulungstag before the actual school year starts on Monday.
After this special day, your child is now officially a member of the school community and a whole new chapter begins!