Word of the Week: Wundertüte

May 11, 2012

Every Friday, Germany.info and The Week in Germany highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plain perplex native English speakers.

Wundertüte

Wundertüte Enlarge image This "Schultüte" (candy cone), traditionally given to children on the first day of school in Germany, is also a kind of "Wundertüte" (wonder bag). (© picture-alliance/dpa)

Everyone likes a surprise. Enter the "Wundertüte" (wonder bag), which promises like a British Christmas cracker or a Mexican piñata to reveal some delightful treats to whoever may be so lucky as to receive it.

Albeit somewhat less spectacular than these more dramatically decorative international party items, a German "Wundertüte" is still an exciting thing - especially for kids. At its most basic, a "Wundertüte" is a closed round or square paper bag available for purchase, which is filled with all manner of "Überraschungen" (surprises), such as candy, chocolate or small toys. The content of the bag is not visible before it is opened, hence the element of surprise.

The "Wundertüte" has reportedly been around in Germany since at least the mid 20th century. Versions of these "Wundertüten," usually filled with sweets, were sold back in the day for a mere 20 to 50 Pfennig (pennies, in the former Deutschmark currency system). Eventually they were tailored towards different target groups, including girls, boys, and even adults.

(c) picture-alliance/dpa Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa)

One variation of the "Wunderüte" principle comes in the form of hollow chocolate eggs sold in Germany with tiny toys and figurines hidden inside of them. Some adults have been known to eagerly reach for such an egg, commonly referred to as "Kinder-Ei" (Kid's Egg), from time to time.

The "Schultüte" (school bag), a "candy cone" traditionally given to children on the first day of school in Germany, is also sometimes referred to as a "Wundertüte." Intended to sweeten the deal of entering school, these often elaborately decorated candy cones (Schultüten) are filled with sweets, as well as sometimes small trinkets and toys, that are jam-packed into the cone. Hence the contents of the cone are a nice "surprise" for the child which receives it.

Wouldn't it be nice if someone made you a Wundertüte from time to time? After all, everyone likes a surprise.

Candy cones make first day of school sweeter

Candy Cone Tradition Sweetens Start of School for First-Graders

Every year in late summer, one can see the eager and proud faces of first-graders standing in front of their primary schools in Germany, happily holding their colorful Schultüten, or candy cones, which are filled to the brim with sweets and little gifts.

© Germany.info

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