Today was the first day of school (or Einschulung in German) for the 2011-2012 year. In addition to her backpack, pencils and crayons, my first-grader had to bring in 2 reams of paper, 3 rolls of paper towels, 2 boxes of tissues, Ziploc bags, and 3 containers of antibacterial wipes.
In Germany, the supply list is a bit different. For Germans, the first day of school is considered a day to celebrate the importance of education and learning. Parents present their children with traditional gifts called Zuckertuetes.
A Zuckertuete is a 3 foot tall, cone-shaped container that is filled with school supplies, candy and toys! Traditional goodies include crayons, little stuffed animals, wind-up toys, pencils, erasers and of course candy. The origin of the Zuckertuete dates back to the early 1800’s when private school children in the the Germanic regions of Saxonia and Thuringia were given “large cone-shaped bags filled with sweets and toys to celebrate their first day of school.” Since then, the tradition grew to include lower-class and public schooled children. Today, over 700,000 candy bags are sold every year in Germany.
Next year I just may have to incorporate this tradition into our own back to school routine. Lucky for me, I found instructions to make my own Zuckertuete!