70’s Flashbacks: My First Day At School, aka ‘Schultütengate’

It’s the 1st September, and the start of a new school year beckons. Last month, when I went through some old family photo albums, I came across this picture, taken on my first ever day of school, in September 1978:


I’m the one on the right. The reason for my jealously guarding that strange missile-shaped accessory will soon become clear.

On their first day of school, German children receive one of these cone-shaped receptacles made of cardboard, called a “Schultüte”. And guess what’s in it? Sweets! (‘Candy’ if you’re North American) Why else would I be clutching it so tightly?!

However, my Schultüte harboured a dark, rustling secret (which explains why I’m not smiling): My parents stuffed it to three quarters with old newspaper. Precious caramels, chocolates and other mortal enemies of tooth enamel occupied only the top layer. They told me that the Schultüte would break if it were completely filled up with sweets. It’s the first conscious memory I have of my parents lying to me. It may have been for my own good, but they seriously plummeted in my esteem on that day.

There was another traumatic revelation that would hit me a few months later: I had assumed that I would get a Schultüte at the beginning of every new school year. But that turned out to be just wishful thinking on my part… it’s very much a once in a lifetime affair.

Do you have any special items or rituals that take place on the first day of school in your country or region?

[To view the rest of the 70’s Flashbacks series (including the fabled ‘naked pictures’ post), click here.]

23 thoughts on “70’s Flashbacks: My First Day At School, aka ‘Schultütengate’

  1. Marianne

    Is it made of cardboard (not carton)? You parents were probably correct – if it was made of cardboard and was filled to the brim with sweets – it probably would have broken or sagged. Plus it would have been so heavy you probably wouldn’t have been able to lift it!

    AAwwwwww ….. so cute!

    What happened?!!


  2. pollyheath

    There’s something about the idea that each German child gets one of these that makes me laugh so hard. Magical. Though your parents were so cruel! Crushing your teeny, adorable dreams.


    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      It’s a very serious business, you know…! Those sweets should have lasted till February, when we have the equivalent of halloween. Mine didn’t even make it past the following weekend… 😦


    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Aw, how sad… 😦
      To be honest, I don’t know of any other country where there’s a start-of-school tradition, and nobody’s come up with anything so far, apart from Russian children giving gladiolas to their teachers.



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