How Different Countries Celebrate the First Day of School: A Global Perspective

Kate Chered
4 min readDec 20, 2023

In Russia, September 1st is synonymous with the Day of Knowledge and the commencement of academic activities. This day is marked by a strong tradition of welcoming students back to school, often with special assemblies, flowers, and speeches emphasizing the importance of education. However, this perception and celebration of the first day of school vary significantly worldwide, with each country embracing unique traditions and practices.

In Mexico, the Day of Knowledge historically falls on September 2nd. Schools follow a floating schedule, with the Ministry of Education releasing an official calendar of activities that typically begin in late August. The first day is marked by ceremonial assemblies featuring patriotic ceremonies. In some public institutions, students participate in flag hoisting and anthem singing. Parents are always invited, though it is more common for parents of younger students to attend. After the assembly, classes proceed to their designated rooms to discuss the importance of school and good grades.

Turkey’s academic year starts in mid-September. The first day is celebrated with a formal assembly where students sing the national anthem and raise the flag. The distribution of educational materials follows this. For younger students, the entire first week is dedicated to celebratory events, including poetry readings about education and teachers and presentations about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Turkish history. In Istanbul, students sometimes enjoy free public transport on this day.

In the United States, the start of the school year varies by state, typically falling between mid-August and September 15th, so there is no unified Day of Knowledge. The first school day in the U.S. is generally informal, without the customary flower-giving found in other countries. The day often involves introductions to new subjects and plans for the year, viewed more as a family celebration where students might receive gifts and have commemorative photos taken for graduation albums.

Japan’s school year starts on April 1st, coinciding with the beautiful cherry blossom season, symbolizing new beginnings, beauty, and youth. This day’s celebration typically involves only first-grade students and their parents, with a formal assembly in the auditorium. Unlike in other countries, bringing gifts or flowers is not customary. Teachers introduce themselves and explain the curriculum, with classes for first-graders beginning a week later. Japanese school backpacks often contain unique items like origami paper and indoor slippers, reflecting cultural differences in educational practices.

In Australia, the first day of school usually falls on January 27th, right after Australia Day, or the following Monday. Unlike other countries, Australia doesn’t have a customary formal assembly. Only first-graders and new students from other schools are given a tour. There’s a general assembly to familiarize students with their new classmates, as class groups are often reshuffled yearly.

FAQs

In Russia, September 1st is a significant day marked as the Day of Knowledge, symbolizing the start of the new academic year. Students traditionally gather in their schools for special assemblies, where teachers and senior students welcome them. It’s a day filled with speeches about the value of education and learning. A unique custom involves younger students receiving flowers from older ones, signifying the passing of knowledge and tradition. This day emphasizes the joy of learning and the communal spirit of education in Russia.

Mexico’s Day of Knowledge, falling on September 2nd, is unique in its blend of educational and patriotic elements. Schools start their year with flexible schedules, and the first day is marked by ceremonial assemblies with patriotic themes. Students participate in flag-hoisting and anthem singing, reflecting a strong national pride. Parents, especially those of younger students, are encouraged to attend these ceremonies. The focus on this day is not just on academic excellence but also on instilling a sense of civic responsibility and national identity among students.

The academic year in Turkey begins in mid-September, a bit later compared to many other countries. The first day is celebrated with formal assemblies where students engage in flag-raising and singing the national anthem, echoing a sense of national pride. Younger students spend the first week in various celebratory activities, including reading poems about education and learning about Turkish history and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. These activities mark the beginning of the school year and instill a sense of cultural heritage and national identity.

In the United States, there is no uniform start date for the school year, with each state deciding independently. It typically begins between mid-August and September 15th. The first day in U.S. schools tends to be informal, without the ceremonial aspects seen in countries like Russia or Mexico. Students are often introduced to new subjects and the year’s academic plans. This day is more of a family-oriented celebration, with students possibly receiving gifts and taking photos for future graduation albums, signifying the start of a new academic journey.

Japan’s school year starts on April 1st, coinciding with the picturesque cherry blossom season. This timing is symbolic, representing new beginnings and the transient beauty of life, as reflected in the fleeting bloom of the sakura. The day typically involves only first-grade students and their parents, focusing on introductions and orientation rather than grand celebrations. The absence of customary practices like gift-giving highlights the simplicity and focus on education. Including origami paper in students’ backpacks showcases Japan’s emphasis on cultural traditions in education.

Originally published at https://beingmotherhood.com on December 20, 2023.

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