The Schultüte Tradition in German Schools

Carrying a Schultüte

When kids open school after the summer holidays, it’s usually expected that their parents buy them the Schultüte. I know most of us have seen them but what do they mean and why do they do it? 

Some of us might not care about them but if you have kids in this system, it’s important to have your kids fit in. As an adult you can choose whether to follow German traditions or not, but for kids at that age, especially those born here, for them that’s their tradition. Most foreign kids are already outsiders, don’t add it to your child by holding the out of the “normal” stuff in their lives.

For some parents of course they don’t decide they don’t want to get involved, they just find themselves without the info. As this parent here:

 A school’s goal -imo- should be not just to educate (as in providing information on daily routine, school’s philosophy, methodology teachers’ expectations as well as common practices for that school to parents) but also to ensure the emotional well being of the children, all children, including children from a different background. Starting the first day of school with immigrant kids not being able to participate in a “common” tradition, does not qualify as a good start for the child, but as a first instance of marginalization. And the tragic thing is that it could be avoided with a little work on the side of the teacher and school administration (What’s so difficult about creating a list of first day of school’s routines / traditions / info on how to do things at that school???). This should not be seen as “extra work for the immigrant child” but a normal part of the job of a teacher and school administration. This is what shocks me as a parent for the limited experience I have had here in Germany. Not much opening up on the side of the school. Expecting parents to know how the school works without giving them much information. Judging parents and parenting style because parents do not conform to expectations that were never made clear in the first place. – Foreign Parent in Germany

Here’s a short explanation:

What is it and what does it contain?

It’s a cone shaped “bag” containing sweets, stationery, toys and other tiny gifts for the child.

Who uses it?

It’s carried by children who are joining primary school (Grundschule) on the first day of school after the summer holidays.

What should it look like?

The bigger the better, you buy it from the stores but if you’re a creative, you can make one. It should also be stable to carry all the goodies your baby will carry to school. It should be customised to what your kid loves, pictures of their favourite cartoons, animals, flowers etc.

Where and When did it start?

Jena in 1817.

Who gives it?

The parents give the BIGGEST. Godparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles may also buy smaller ones. You can give it to the child either at the school, if you attend the “Opening Ceremony” or at home after the event. Of course if you don’t make it that day, you can bring it later.

History behind it?

Some experts trace it back to the bible,

“They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.” -Psalm 19:10 They propose that the sweets in the bag are to emphasise the words from the scripture in Psalms.

The kids were told that there was a Schultüte-tree growing at the school and that when the tree was mature enough and the fruits ripe, the children will be ready to go to school.

How it works:


Traditionally, the kids would go to school with their parents to school without the Schultüte. The kids would then go meet their new teachers and be shown their new class plus be adviced on how school life would be like in their new school then they’d break for the day. the whole time the parents would be waiting outside. By the time the kids break for the day, the relatives, especially the grandparents would have arrived with the Schultüte. The kid would then be presented with the Schultüte as they take pictures with family. Eventually the kid would go open the Schultüte at home.


In some schools, the School Orchestra or the Drama Club perform at the school assembly before the children together with their parents go to the new classroom with the new teacher. After a short introduction, the parents and younger siblings who might have joined in leave. In some schools, the kids then open the Schultüte and get to enjoy the goodies or even swap some of them. Some schools will still let the kids open them at home.

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