Einschulung (First Day of School)

In the history of mankind you can find many major inventions – such as the creation of the wheel and the light bulb – but there are also small ones like the Zuckertuete (literally, “sugar bag” or “candy bag”), which makes the hear of children jump.

It’s a German tradition played out every August or September at the start of the school year:  Einschulung (The First Day of School) is a very special event that symbolizes the importance of a child’s formal education. The Zuckertüte – a special cone-shaped container that is about three feet tall filled with candy, toys and school supplies – is a gift from the parents to their children so they feel special on this important day.

The history of the Zuckertuete harks back to the year 1810 in the Germanic regions of Saxonia and Thuringia, where wealthy, privately-schooled children received large cone-shaped bags filled with sweets and toys to celebrate their first day of school. It wasn’t until much later that the middle and lower class children were brought in from the fields to begin public school. From then on, the practice was mainstreamed and has grown into a time-honored back-to-school routine. It wasn’t until 1910 when this handcrafted tradition was compromised. Carl August Nestler from Wiesa in Saxonia began to mass-produce the token bags. Today more than 700,000 candy bags are sold every year in Germany.

To offer American children something special on their first day of school, surprise them with a Zuckertuete. These bags can be ordered online (www.giftcones.com) but if you want to be creative, craft a Zuckertueteof your own. (A link to instructions is under the picture to the right.)

Here are some fun things to put in the bags: crayons, erasers, watches, yo-yos, hair clips, gum and stuffed toys. And as is the German tradition, fill the Zuckertuete up with some authentic German candies such as marzipan, chocolate kugelns (kisses), and gummies. These items and many other German products can be purchased at specialty stores nationwide.