Step 76: Einschulung and Zuckertüte

A sample Zuckertüte, the man is shown for reasons of scale. Illustration by Robert M. Schöne
A sample Zuckertüte, the man is shown for reasons of scale. Illustration by Robert M. Schöne

After arriving here, you probably noticed that you are hopelessly unqualified in comparison to your new friends. Sorry about that. This land majored in education, with a minor in specialism. However, it’s not too late. If you’re still willing, we can head back to school together. Yes? Great! With education such a core value of German society, it’s no surprise that they’d make our first day at school—Einschulung—a rather grand affair. Important enough to get its own noun, even. What’s that at the back? You think the barrier to getting your own German noun is quite low? That German is pretty slutty with its nouns? Shh. I’m teaching here.

So anyway, Einschulung, our first day of school, is usually held on a Saturday, so that everyone can attend—parents, grandparents, cousins. At the school, excited, we’ll be greeted by a proud Schuldirektor, who will perform a special ritual for us Schulanfänger called an Einschulungszeremonie (there’s a few more specialised nouns for you—you’re welcome). Don’t fidget, Ausländer. Usually Schulanfänger can sit patiently through this ceremony because they know what comes next—the climax of the whole process: We get our Zuckertüte!

Zuckertüten (or Schultüten) are giant cones of gifts presented to the children starting school. This elaborate present is designed to distract us from realising that German society now deems us old enough to learn. No longer can we just goof off with our friends in the sandpit. Our best days are truly vorbei.

As a foreigner, it’s bittersweet to learn of Zuckertüten. Sweet that they exist, bitter that you never got one. I think they should be distributed liberally—Mondays, dentist visits, health insurance rate increases, and many other such boring adulthood events would be greatly improved with sugar bribery. Of course, puritans might argue that handing out Zuckertüten left, right, and centre would only cheapen this special German tradition. I’d argue that you only know something is a tradition when other people tell you it’s being ruined by commercialisation.

Apparently this is already happening to the humble Zuckertüte, so my friends with kids tell me. Rather than filling the Tüte with modest educational gifts (probably made of wood), it has become a parental dick swinging contest of iPads and smartphones and other such shiny, mind-rotting trinkets. Will someone not think of the children? Where are the children? Studying, most likely. That’s their job now, after all. As it is yours.



Required reading for all Ausländer and Germans who sometimes have the feeling they don’t understand their own country. We learn why the Germans speak so freely about sex, why they are so obsessed with Spiegel Online and why they all dream of being naked in a lake of Apfelsaftschorle. At the end, the only thing left to say to Adam Fletcher’s love letter to Germany is “Alles klar!” More than 100k copies sold!

Released: 2013   Length: 192 pages  Languages: EN/DE  Publisher: C.H. Beck Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne


An illustrated love letter to the language of our adopted home. Join us as we take you on a tour through some of the German language’s greatest words, expressions, proverbs and language possibilities, all wrapped up for international delivery in the form of Denglisch!

Released:  2014    Length:  240 pages       Languages:  EN/DE     Publisher: Ullstein   Co-Author: Paul Hawkins    Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne

After two best-selling books I find I’ve become somewhat of a pundit for German life. Unsure about my position I take on a series of integration challenges. Readers will learn:

  • What happens when someone of no musical talent creates a Schlager song.
  • Why you shouldn’t accept a ride from a Mitfahrgelegenheitvan containing a mattress and a cat with one eye.
  • What watching seventy hours of German TV in a week does to your health.
  • Why you shouldn’t attend a Schützenfest if you can neither drink nor march.

Released: 2015  Length: 400 pages  Languages: EN/DE Publisher: Ullstein.

Fifty new and advanced integration steps that explain the sticky friendship glue of Kaffee und Kuchen, the educational superiority of wood, and the rituals of the German Weihnachtsmarkt. You’ll learn how to blame the weather for most of your ailments, how to survive a visit to your local Baumarkt, why Germans take their kitchen when they move, and why you keep losing to them at table football. Adam Fletcher’s book is the ultimate, irreverent love letter to a nation that has gotten so under his skin.

Released: 2016  Length: 192 pages  Languages: EN/DE  Publisher: C.H. Beck Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne