First day of school: knowledge and sweets for children


When? The beginning of the school year varies around the world. In 2022 three Austrian states (Burgenland, Lower Austria, Vienna) start a new school year on 5th September and six states including Carinthia (Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Upper Austria, Vorarlberg) on 12th September.

Where? Austria and other countries around the world.

The meaning. The first day of school is a very important event for every pupil, especially for children who go to school for the first time. It’s very exciting and a little bit scary. So teachers and parents help children adapt to the new school atmosphere and cope with the fear.

How it is celebrated. There is a very old tradition in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. On the first day of school, parents give their children a cornet filled with different sweets and chocolates or little school stuff. The cornet is intended to sweeten entry into new school life.

As a rule the first day of school is a short day. Teachers explain rules to their pupils, show them the school schedule and the children get to know each other.

Family traditions. About twenty years ago, Irma Barl, a 37-year-old Austrian, went to school for the first time. “I remember this day very well. It was sunny weather and I was very proud to go to school with my new red schoolbag. My Mom presented me a big cornet, and I found oranges, dates, candies and color pencils inside. My Dad was very serious and told me one important phrase: “Education opens new horizons. Every little thing that you study will help you in the future”. At that time I didn’t understand these words but later I repeated them many times”, Irma tells.

This year her daughter Olivia (6) is going to attend school in Spittal an der Drau. “I guess I feel more anxious than my girl”, Irma says smiling. “I made a cornet for her myself and filled it with her favorite candies. I’d like to quote my Dad’s phrase. And I’ll add: “School years are really wonderful, enjoy them!“ (Oct. 2015)

Text and photos: Vita Vitrenko