Starting school in Germany

Wouldn’t you beam with joy if you got a cone full of sweets and little gifts on your first day of school? Sweetening the first steps into the serious side of life is considered an old German tradition which can be traced back to the 19th century, taking its starting point in former Eastern Germany.

Children with school cones
Children with school cones© dpa

Famous German author Erich Kästner recalled his first day of school in his childhood memories When I was a little boy, on which he was given a “candy cone with a golden ribbon”, filled with so many sweets, cupcakes, figs, grapes and waffles that they dropped out. This took place in Dresden in 1906, but the first evidence of a Schultüte (engl. school cone) can already be found in 1817. The tradition of school cones originated in Thuringia and Saxony and spread over Germany as a whole in the 20st century; large-scale production of school cones emerged in 1910.

School students were told that a sugar tree was located in the school basement. Thus, school cones were traditionally filled with sweets, nuts and fruits, but nowadays parents also add school material like pencils, rubbers and colouring books to it. Giving school cones to children evokes not only pleasant anticipation vis-à-vis the first day of school, but also marks the beginning of a new chapter in one’s life.

School cones are widespread in Germany, and also practised in Austria and Switzerland.

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