Recall that first day back to school. Spending hours trying to pick out the right outfit, worried if the new teacher was going to be strict or fun, and not getting a wink of sleep because there was something else that had to be packed into that new book bag. The first day of school is special all over the world. In some countries it is greatly celebrated and is seen as a new path in life or the beginnings of great adventures and discoveries.
In our country it’s all about a nice haircut, new outfit, and all the school supplies we can find at Office Max, which is then memorialized in front of the bus waving good bye to mom and dad.
Nyuugakushiki – This means “entrance ceremony” which begins April 1st in Japan. This day represents new beginnings. Parents dress in traditional garb with mothers in kimonos and students in their new uniforms and have their pictures taken at the school gate. While in queue, each new student is greeted by a senior who pins a nametag onto their shirt who then takes them by the hand and gives them a tour. Everyone including parents then process into the gym for a formal ceremony led by the headmaster (Goodrich, 2008).
Den Znanii – Day of Knowledge in Russia begins September 1st. Students and teachers gather around the school bearing flowers and are dressed in uniforms. Students stand in line and are greeted by the headmaster. Many sing songs celebrating the end of summer and beginning of fall. A first grader and senior are then chosen among the students. The first grader performs Pervi Zvonok –First Bell – and is paraded around on the senior’s shoulders ringing in the new school year (Bolanova, 2012).
Pōwhiri – This is the welcoming ceremony in New Zealand for both new staff and students. It begins in February and reflects their Māori culture in which Maori students perform a warrior’s dance called the haka. Two Maori elders address the students welcoming them to school. The ceremony is then finished with the Hongi. The Hongi is comprised of a line of people that grasp hands and touch noses and foreheads together (V, 2013) (Host Bee, 2011).
Praveshanotsavam – Day of admission in India begins in late spring. Students are welcomed back to school with gifts of backpacks, balloons, candy and textbooks. This is also the beginning of monsoon season so students also receive colorful umbrellas (Express News Service, 2012) (Host Bee, 2011).
Israel – First graders enter into the new school with an archway formed by older students. Once everyone is through, balloons are released. Students then follow an ancient practice by licking letters drawn on a slate with honey to remind them that learning is sweet (Host Bee, 2011).
Schultüte – Germany also has a sweet tooth for learning. Schultüte or sugar cones are given to students from their parents. It’s a paper cone filled with candy and school supplies. Students will then take their enormous schultüte to school and trade trinkets with their schoolmates, according to our Austrian Edwards Ed intern, Katharina Gugerell who also participated in this tradition while in school.
While we come from many different cultures and traditions, we have a few things in common, perhaps the most important being the search for knowledge. Imagine the possibilities and problems we could solve if the world worked together. Going to school and developing 21st century skills is the first step in this process. Never before has it been easier to communicate with other nations almost instantly. This gives us the opportunity to cultivate relationships and awareness of different cultures in this globalized world.
By, Stephanie Elko
Edwards Ed Consultant
Bolanova, E. (2012, September). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.russian-moscow.com/russia-day-of-knowledge/
Express News Service. (2012, June 5). It’s fun, friends and colours on d-day. The New Indian Express. Retrieved from http://newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/article535645.ece
Goodrich, A. (2008, April 9). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://japanorama.co.uk/2008/04/09/first-day-of-school-in-japan/
Host Bee, B. (2011, August 14). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.busybeelifestyle.com/first-day-school-traditions/
V, A. (2013, February 5). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://ashleysnewzealandadventure.blogspot.com/2013/02/powhiri.html