The tradition of the “Schultüte” leads back to approximately 1810, in Germany. When children in Germany, set off for their first day in school upon entering first grade, their parents and/or grandparents present them with a big cardboard cone, prettily decorated and filled with toys, chocolate, candies, school supplies, and various other goodies. It is given to children to make this anxiously awaited first day of school a little bit sweeter.
At first the practice of the school cone, which did not spread to other parts of Germany at this time, was to not give the bag to the kids directly. Marked with the students’ names, they were taken to the school by parents or grandparents and in a ritual, hung on a metal “Schultüten-Baum” (School cone tree) from which each child had to pick his or her cone, without breaking it. The story told to the children goes, that there is a Schultütenbaum growing at the school, and if the fruits (the Schultüten) are ripe and big enough to pick, it’s time to go to school for the first time.
The only custom that has changed in the latter half of the 20th century is that fewer sweets seem to appear in the Schultüte, with more practical gifts such as crayons and pencils, small toys, books and even articles of clothing replacing the traditional chocolates and candies.
Anda Corrie is an American artist, armchair anthropologist, and autodidact living in Berlin, Germany with her young family. She works as a graphic designer for Etsy by day, and also frequently by night.
“I moved from Brooklyn to Berlin with my family in 2010, with a very tenuous idea of what the future held. Now, four years down the road, we’re still here – quite settled, established, and firmly rooted in a wonderful city that delights me every day (although mein Deutsch ist immer noch schlecht). Meanwhile, my toddler daughter is suddenly, out of nowhere, a poised, six-year-old lady who will be starting grade school this fall.”
“Here in Germany there’s a fantastic tradition of sending kids off to their first day of school with giant paper cornets filled with candy, chocolates and school supplies. These cornets are called schultüten (literally “school cones”). Once I learned what they were, I was a little surprised they hadn’t caught on anywhere else. Making the first day of school sweet and celebratory seems like such a wonderful tradition!”
“As it turns out, they are also a cinch to whip up with supplies you can find at any craft store. I made my own back-to-school cornet filled with sweets in the shape of – what else – an ice cream cone!”
Source: Etsy Blog and Anda Corrie
Photography: Anda Corrie