This month, around 1.8 billion children across the world have started a new school year, some for the very first time. No matter your race, creed or culture, the first day of school is a significant one and different countries have an array of traditions to mark the special occasion. If you’re planning on moving your family abroad here’s a taster of the traditions your children may enjoy.
In Russia, September 1st is called the Day of Knowledge, where children present their teachers with a bouquet of flowers. Formal attire is worn by all who participate. The day is so culturally significant that, even if it falls on a weekend, the children and their families will still attend. The day includes puppet shows and entertainment and the ceremonies end with the ringing of the first bell, which heralds the start of the new school year.
In Germany and Austria, students are gifted with their schultutes, cone-shaped containers. Traditionally they were filled with sugary snacks to help make school a little sweeter, but as time went on, these gifts, often given by grandparents, have become more practical in holding items that will be used in the coming school year.
In Japan, children on their very first day of school receive randoseru: backpacks which will last them through their primary school years. They are durable and considered great keepsakes for people to remember their childhood. They are often passed down from one family member to another. In some cases, pieces of the randoseru are used to make a pencil case that children will use in their further education.
In the Republic of Kazakhstan first day pupils bring a single flower for their new teacher. While combining each child’s flower, the teacher forms a beautiful bouquet, a symbol of growth and fresh hopes for the coming school year.
In India, Praveshanotsavam, or “Admission Day” signals the beginning of the new school year. Gifts are swapped as the children celebrate a new school year. As the Indian school year begins during monsoon season, a common gift is an umbrella.
Italian children wear their work coats to school on their very first day. Resembling smocks, these special uniforms have different coloured ribbons pinned to them to indicate which year they are entering. Although these colours differ from school to school, final year primary school pupils wear white, green and red ribbons: the colours of the Italian flag.
However, traditions spread further than just the first day, and different nations’ school terms differ wildly to those you may be used to.
In Australia, for example, students take their summer vacation during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter. Australian school years begin in late January and continue until the middle of December.
Hardworking Chinese students begin their lessons at 7:30 and finish around 5 p.m. Besides a lunch break, the children work non-stop to achieve their academic goals. Conversely, laid back French students commonly have Wednesday off school, replacing the full day for a half day on Saturday.