Friday, February 12, 2016

Religion and Andrei's school

Andrei’s school was closed on Monday because it’s Rosenmontag which is technically not an official holiday but as Wikipedia informed me later schools are usually closed on Mondays and in some really Karneval-happy places on Tuesdays as well.  Andrei’s school was open on Tuesday but they had one big party all day long.  Ilya and Anton had their respective parties on Mondays.   The best part about this is that there was a sign on extended day door that they are closed on Monday but not on the school itself!  

In German schools there is no separation between school and religion.  In fact, in Germany there is no separation between church and state.  If you belong to a Catholic or Protestant church or a synagogue 8% of your income taxes will automatically be deducted.  That means that if you make 50,000 euros a year, you will pay 10,000 euros in regular taxes and additionally 800 euros to the church.  If you don’t want to pay that tax, you have the option to leave the religion.  Moreover, if you leave the church you cannot participate in any religious activities (including confessions, confirmations, becoming godparents, teaching in churches, etc.).  The only thing you will get last rites so in a fairly religious country like Germany it’s a very big deal!

Andrei (public school, 2nd grade) has religion classes twice a week.  They cover basics of the Bible and quite frankly Andrei tells me it’s boring.  In 3rd grade the class is split between Catholics and Protestants.   Next year we will sign a waiver saying that we don't want Andrei to participate in religion classOnce in a while we get letters from Andrei’s school regarding church-related activities.  Last week we got letter signed by both protestant and catholic priests inviting school kids and their families to Ash Wednesday services at 7:45.  It’s so drastically different from the American schooling to us but not to Andrei since his entire class participates.  By the way, Ilya who goes to a private school has ethics classes instead of religion classes.  

P.S. From Wikipedia “Karneval is prevalent in Roman Catholic areas and is a continuation of the old Roman traditions of slaves and servants being master for a day. Karneval derives from the Latin carnem levare ("taking leave of meat") marking the beginning of Lent.”

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