The first day of… School
Though we have only been living in Germany 3 weeks, we are discovering many differences in culture and practice from the U.S. One big difference is how involved the church is with public schools. In Germany, there isn’t separation of church and state. So, on Our oldest daughters first day of school we experienced the state church and school working together. The day began with an optional church service down the street from the school. They rang the celebratory church bells and opened with an invocation, inviting the Holy Spirit’s presence. There were pastors present from both Protestant and Catholic Churches and everyone participated. At the end of the service all the children were asked to come up to the pastors/priests and receive a blessing. We couldn’t understand most of it, but we didn’t need to. It was beautiful and the families and kids were proud.
After the service was complete, everyone walked the short distance to the school and it felt like a parade! A true moment of the church being the church — and sending the children out with prayers to succeed in school. In Germany, the first day of first grade is a very important day. We have been told the most important days for Germans are as follows: the day you get married, have children, and the first day of first grade!
Everyone dressed up and all first grade children were given a cone full of surprises and candy to celebrate. This is called a schultüte . There were many styles of cones, from the very simple to over-the-top. We even saw one with a forest theme and a stuffed owl coming out of the top! A German mother explained the cone is given to help ease any anxiety that might be associated with the first day of school. Celebrating this special event with our daughter was a gift to us; a wonderful way to begin our time in Germany. We have been in prayer about about her first day of school; that she would feel welcomed and happy. God could not have provided a more beautiful entrance to school — and a kind teacher and friendly classmates! She asks to go to school every day…even on the weekends!