Why Germans celebrate school with a cardboard cone

Through wars and natural disasters, German parents have given their children sweet-filled cones to celebrate the start of school – and pass on a surprisingly powerful message. …

“The school cone is a traditional rite of passage,” says Christiane Cantauw, an historian and folklore expert at the Commission for Research into Everyday Culture in Westphalia, in western Germany. “The child is leaving the early years behind and entering the school years, and this fact is taken very seriously in Germany. And the tradition makes that clear.”

In addition, the cone marks a special new bond: “Through the transition to school, the child detaches a little bit from the family unit,” says Cantauw. “And with the cone-giving custom, the family creates a reconnection, and conveys that ‘yes, you’re now a school child, but you’re still part of our family. We support you and accompany you on this new path, just like we did before.'”  

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