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The first day of school

The first day of school
The first day of school
(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The first day of school is a day that many people look forward to with both dread and celebration; it marks the end of summer and the return of schedules, activities and the resumption of “reading, writing and ‘rithmatic.” Families around Columbus are getting ready in their own ways to send their children back to school with all the necessary items for learning. If you would like to join in the excitement, watch your parish bulletin for information concerning various forms of “Schultuet” or “Project First Day.”

“Schultuet” is a tradition emerging from Germany around 1810. Depending on the region and various customs, there was a special church service which concluded by leading children in a procession to the school where they were presented with a cone of sweets or cookies that were baked in the shape of letters. The children may also be given pieces of slate that were used for the first tentative strokes of writing legible letters and numbers.

By the 20th century, “Schultuet” evolved with more practical gifts such as crayons and pencils, small toys, CDs, and books replacing the cones of sweets or cookies. In 21st century Columbus, the “Schultuet” tradition continues and now includes the charitable act of donations by the community of items such as traditional school supplies and disinfectant wipes and tissues or paper towels to help schools and students in financial need.

The Columbus Catholic Connection: On Wednesday, August 25th, the traditional German First Day of School “Schultuet” ceremony will be attended by Columbus Bishop Frederick Campbell at Columbus St. Mary, 1:00 pm, at St. Mary School, 700 S. 3rd St. For information call, 614-444-8994.