USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘germany’
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German Tradition: Schultüte (School Cone)

Interview Extraction:

Informant: “I don’t know if you have this in the States, but we get school cones. Do you know what that is? Well, you know how a cone is where you put ice cream inside? And we get massive ones on our first day of school, but filled with gifts.”

Interviewer: “And what is in these cones?”

Informant: “Mostly presents of any type.  It can be sweets, it can be stuff for school, it can basically be pretty much everything.”

Interviewer: “And are these presents supposed to make students feel better about having to go back to school?”

Informant: “No, no. This is only on the very first day, when everyone is super excited anyways. And it’s just to make the start even more special.  And then it’s usually grandparents and everybody coming to the school and we have a big ceremony where the classes are announced and who is in which class, with which teacher and stuff. Yeah, it’s actually sweet.  And in my family we went out for lunch later, and we just ate. So that is what I did.”

Interviewer: “What are they called, the cone things in German?”

Informant: “School cone, schultüte.”

Analysis:

Schultüte translates into English as ‘school bag’, even though the object is in a cone shape.  A Schultüte is a cone shaped cardboard cup filled with things such as chocolates, small gifts, and practical gifts for school like pencils or crayons.  These are given to children in Germany and Austria by parents and grandparents on their first day of school, especially upon entering kindergarden.  This tradition appears to only be for younger children.  The tradition first appeared in the early 19th century in Germany.  It first began in the bigger cities, but the tradition soon spread to the rural areas of Germany and is now a common custom in Germany and Austria today. When the tradition first began, the school cones were not directly given to the children as they are today.  Children’s names were written on the cones, and then were hung from a metal Schultüten-Baum or ‘school cone tree’.  The children had to then pick the school cones off the trees without breaking them. There is a story connected to this that says adults would say to the children that if the school cone tree was ripe with school cones, than it was time to start school.

I am not sure what the connection to fruit growing on trees is for the school cones, but the cones represent an initiation for children to start the new year of school.  In my research I found that my first response to the reason why school cones are given, which is to make the children less nervous about going back to school, was just as reasonable as my informant’s reasoning that it was just part of making that day even more special.  The first day of school is full of all kinds of anxieties that come from starting a new school year with a new teacher and new courses.  School cones are given to the children to help create an atmosphere of celebration, which makes the anxieties of change more bearable to children because the gifts make the day more exciting.  I don’t know why this tradition has not spread to other countries, perhaps because it is a relatively new tradition compared to other traditions we see in folklore.  I like the idea of turning the first day of school into a celebration because it makes education special in the minds of the children due to this kind of positive association with the start of school and gifts.  This is not to say that in America we think of education differently than than they do in German culture, but the first day of school can bring about anxiety to children because things are unfamiliar to them.  Therefore creating a happy atmosphere would be a great way to dispel any feelings of nervousness that the children feel.

My informant was born in 1992 Hamburg, Germany.  She studied at USC from 2010-2011 before moving to Brussels, Belgium to study international policy planning for her undergraduate degree.  She lives part time in Brussels, Belgium and part time in her hometown Hamburg, Germany.

Customs
Foodways
Material

German Recipe: Curry Wurst

German Curry Wurst Recipe:

Ingredients: 

Ketchup, 10 tablespoons

Water, 5 tablespoons

Salt, ½ teaspoon

Pepper, 1 teaspoon

Paprika Powder, 1/2 tablespoon

Cayenne Pepper, to taste

Chili Sauce, 1 1/4 tablespoons

Curry Powder, 1 tablespoons

Sugar, 1 tablespoon

Bratwurst sausages

Instructions:

First, cook your sausages on either a grill or pan if you don’t have a grill.  Once the sausages are done cooking, set them aside.  In a saucepan add ketchup, stir in 4-5 tablespoons of water and boil while stirring. Remove from the heat and season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, chili, curry powder and a little sugar if necessary. Serve hot!

(Warning: SPICY!)

Analysis:

When I first traveled to Germany, I really wanted to try some local cuisine.  My informant suggested that I try curry wurst, because the fast food dish is very popular and she thought I would like it.  I had curry wurst for the first time at a small open air market in Berlin.  There were all kinds of condiments you could add to the curry wurst such as mayonnaise and hot sauce.  The curry wurst was also sold with potatoes, french fries, and white bread rolls which you would use to dip in the extra sauce.  My informant told me that Berliners normally get white bread rolls with their curry wurst, and I wanted to do ‘the local thing’ so I got a bread roll to go with my snack.  To me, doing things as they locals do them when I travel is my way of trying to get an understanding for the culture.  I hoped that in trying many different types of  German food, I could get an understanding of what kinds of foods Germans like.  Are they the kind of culture that likes spicy, savory, or sweet foods?  German food seems to be a good combination of all those food tastes, like the sweet taste of apple strudel, the savory flavor of potato dumplings, and the spicy kick of curry wurst.  I ended up loving the food so much that I asked the informant’s mother for a curry wurst recipe that I could take back to America with me.  I think the recipe is very close to what I had at the market in Berlin, but of course nothing can compare to the real thing.

The invention of curry wurst is attributed to Herta Heuwer, who created the sauce in 1949 when she obtained ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and curry powder from British soldiers in Berlin.  Her recipe soon became very popular and her stand was selling as much as 10,000 servings per week. Heuwer patented the recipe as ‘Chillup’ in 1951 and started her own restaurant.  Today curry wurst stands can be see all over the major cities of Germany, and they are a popular form of fast food for tourists and Germans.

My informant was born in 1992 Hamburg, Germany.  She studied at USC from 2010-2011 before moving to Brussels, Belgium to study international policy planning for her undergraduate degree.  She lives part time in Brussels, Belgium and part time in her hometown Hamburg, Germany.

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