The first day of school is a short way off for Baltimore County Public Schools students, who will return to classrooms on Wednesday, August 27. While the preparations for the new year are in full swing, let’s take a look at seven back-to-school traditions from around the world.
Sharing more than just a border, Austrians and Germans kick off a new school year with schultütes. Parents and grandparents fill these decorated cone-shaped containers to the brim with candy, small gifts and, of course, school supplies for their students entering Grade 1.
In India, students celebrate Praveshanotsavam, or “Admission Day,” with a gift exchange. While gifts can range from practical to silly, umbrellas take the lead as the most commonly-exchanged present. Why? Monsoon season runs May through October, hitting back-to-school season in its tracks.
Across the Arabian Sea, young Israelites start their first day back with a tasty treat: edible letters coated in honey. Older Israelites take part in the fun, too, by greeting their new peers outside schoolhouse archways and releasing colorful balloons from classroom windows.
Perhaps more colorful than the balloons floating above Israeli schoolyards are the ribbons adorning student work coats in Italy. Italian children receive their work coats on the first day of school, and onto them, their teachers help the students pin ribbons that correspond to their grade level. In most schools, red corresponds to Grade 1; pink to Grade 2; blue to Grade 3; green to Grade 4; and green, white and red – the colors of the Italian flag – to Grade 5.
For Japanese students, the back-to-school memento is not a ribbon but a randoseru, or backpack. Traditionally black for boys and red for girls, the leather randoserus are passed down through generations of families and presented to Japanese children when they begin their first year of school. Once the randoserus have become worn from use, families repurpose the backpacks for pencil cases that the students carry with them as they enter chuugaku, or middle school.
In Kazakhstan, the students also carry backpacks and pencil cases, but more importantly, each child carries with him or her a single flower. When the students arrive in their classrooms on the first day of school, their teachers collect the flowers and arrange them into bouquets. On display in every classroom, the bouquets represent the growth and progress that the students will make during the school year.
Russia expands upon this Kazakh tradition with its celebration of the Day of Knowledge. Each year on September 1, Russian students present their teachers with flowers. The teachers then arrange the flowers into bouquets while their students attend a first day ceremony. The ceremony begins with a lesson about peace and ends with the sound of the “first bell.” For Russian children, the ring of the bell marks the official start of the new school year.
What great ways to get in gear for a new year! For more about these and other back-to-school traditions, click here.
What are your back-to-school traditions? Let us know by tweeting @BaltCoPS with the hashtag #BCPSBTStraditions or comment on this blog post!