Friday, August 24, 2007

Sometimes a plate is not just a plate!

I was contacted recently to make jewelry out of a wedding plate. I was honored, and it made me curious about the traditions behind it. What I found, surprised me - people all over the world like breaking plates as much as I do! I wanted to share some of my research here and see if anyone out there can shed any more knowledge on the subject. I would love to do more work like that, it will be nice to make jewelry that has a more symbolic meaning.

Wedding Traditions:
German - In German tradition, a Polterabend, or a wedding-eve party, is thrown for the couple. In this celebration, those attending smash plates and other breakables as a sign of good luck for the couple-to-be. This act is also meant as a way to stop the couple from any more breaking in the household in the future.

Greek - Plate breaking is a symbol of how Greeks celebrate the joys of life -- spontaneous and impermanent joy. Plates are broken on behalf of or to celebrate others as they sing a great song, dance a great dance, or show spirit in some other wonderful way.

Czech - At the Czech wedding reception, a plate is broken at the feet of the bride and groom and they must clean the pieces up together to promote the ability to work together in a healthy manner throughout their marriage. In addition, when the plate is initially broken, the bride and the groom try to get hold of the broom, because that one who gets it will be the head and master of the household. The holder of the pan will always have to be obedient.

Jewish - "Tenaim," which translates as "conditions," is an Ashkenazic tradition of engagement. The Tenaim ceremony announces that two families have come to an agreement on the marriage of their two children. At the ceremony, the Tenaim document, a pre-wedding contract that sets out this agreement, was read out loud, signed and witnessed, and a plate is smashed to seal the deal. The mothers of the couple break the plate, symbolizing the impending breaks in their relationships with their children, who will soon take responsibility for feeding each other. Others give the broken pieces to eligible "singles" as if to say, "May a plate be broken for you soon."

I even found a company that makes candy plates to be broken! The SWEET MADNESS® "Plate to Break®" . . . is designed to help with your madness about:
Another Birthday
Losing your job
Getting a divorce
Your boss is a jerk
Your aches and pains
Your test score
Any other reason to express your madness
Let your madness out and enjoy the candy!


Marie said...


the Polterabend here is a big tradition and i know very few couples who skipped it.
It's usually a dinner with the closest friends and family who bring old dishes to break and to wish the couple well, like you already said.
Interesting and good to see that such old traditions are still alive. Great idea to make something meaningful from a plate that was used in that ceremony!

-- Marie (yes, Germany)

* have been admiring your blog for a while now and I'm WOWED

Juliet said...

Thanks Marie, I had no idea about this, it is really cool that it is such a big tradition. Come on America- let's break some stuff!

Judy said...

The Candy plates to break taste good, too.

Maya Topadze Griggs (Soccer Mom Style) said...

Thanks for this post. I was looking for meaning of broken china and this is a great source. Also, Wikipedia says in "In the Philippines, the breaking of plates during the wedding ceremony is seen as a means of shooing away bad luck".

And if I am not mistaken, in Russia after the bride and groom are pronounced husband and wife they break a plate together for good luck.

Anonymous said...

I have had a remarkable few days also many signs of good fortune. A money spider, a bird poo on my hand , and this morning I broke a plate ! All brilliant signs that a shift has occurred and I feel great about life. Thanks for all the information. Blessings

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Curious Kitty said...

It was without a doubt the strangest incident: First my kitty "Linky Lu Chin Chin, meow meow" broke a plate on the dining table, then my dog broke a plate I had on my bed.within hours of each other and only 1 shard piece broke off on each