Lance & Megan's Blog

Day of Knowledge


September 1, the Day of Knowledge, also known as First Bell.

Ukraine has a unique holiday of celebrating the first day of school on September first. Every year school starts on the same day through out the country. It does not matter if it’s Saturday or Sunday, school begins on the first!

Waiting for school to start

Students all dress up in their uniforms, girls have their hair done and boys are spiffed up. There are a couple of traditional items students will always have. Girls of all ages often have a white hair ribbon or bow called a buntiki. Basically, the bigger the better. The graduating girls often wear traditional clothes or their uniforms with a white apron over it.

All dolled up for school

All kids bring gifts to their teacher, this can be flowers or some small knick-knack. They meet their teacher, find their seats, parents and teachers can talk… all that good schooly kind of stuff. There is usually a band, some speeches, a priest comes and blesses the school and sprinkles everyone with holy water and the smallest/youngest student gets to ring the first bell signifying the beginning of the school year.

Blessing the school

It's raining holy water!


First bell!!

The Day of Knowledge began during the Soviet rule in 1984. It was meant to commemorate the honor of going to school to receive knowledge. The tradition has carried on after Soviet rule has gone. Many former Soviet Union countries still continue this tradition.

This was the first year I actually got to experience it in a small form. I didn’t really plan on attending any first bell celebrations, but as I was on my way to visit a friend I heard band music wafting over the trees. I thought I would go and check it out. I just joined the mob figuring they would never know I was there for the cultural experience and not to congratulate some relative. I took pictures like everyone else, but I aimed my camera at different people every time and took pictures of all sorts of things. It was fun to join in the celebration, I certainly wish it was like this when I went to school!

posted under cultural, Ukraine
One Comment to

“Day of Knowledge”

  1. On September 4th, 2012 at 10:57 am mom Says:

    Wow, looks very festive….seems like children would really look forward to the first day back in school.