Thursday, September 18, 2008

Broken plate traditions

Being a designer of broken china jewelry, I'm naturally curious about all the traditions surrounding china and the breaking of it. And there are many such traditions. I did a little research and these are some of the traditions that I found.

The first I'll mention and I think the most well known is the tradition of breaking plates at weddings. Jewish people break a glass under the wedding canopy which symbolizes the destruction of the Temple. It is becoming more popular at Jewish weddings now for the bride and the mother-in-law to also break a plate before the wedding. When they break the plate, it represents irreversibility, just as the marriage vows are meant to be irreversible. Some say that both the glass and plate are broken to lend a note of seriousness to the occasion.

They also break plates at Greek weddings. That plate breaking takes place as the bride and groom and their guests celebrate the wedding by dancing. The Peloponnese have a tradition of breaking a plate on the doorstep of the newlyweds to ward off
spirits. Another Greek tradition is breaking a plate at the parting of two lovers so no matter how many years may pass before they meet again, they'll be able to recognize each other by putting the two halves of the plate together.

Many Greek restaurants are known for their plate breaking. Some will even smash plates every once in awhile outside their restaurant doors to attract customers. And some Greek restaurants have a smashing area where their customers can smash their own plates. And then there are the restaurants in Greece where plate breaking is not welcome - they serve their customers their meals on metal plates to prevent it! Breaking plates is a highlight of Greek night and expresses happiness and joy.

In Czechoslovakia, the bride and groom break plates to see how many pieces the plate breaks into. The more pieces, the more successful the marriage will be.

During the bridal waltz at Finnish weddings, the bride's mother-in-law puts a plate on top of her head and when the plate falls and breaks, the pieces are counted and represent the number of children the couple will have.

In Denmark, the tradition is the throw china plates at their friends' houses and the more plates thrown, the more friends you'll have.

Breaking plates can also symbolize being rich - similar to having money to burn. You're so rich, you can smash plates and still have more of them.

I read an interesting note in one of the articles I found. When someone is drunk, we say he is "smashed". Possibly that slang started when someone woke up with a hangover after a party and felt as broken as all the plates lying around him.

If any readers of this blog know of any other traditions involving broken china, please post a comment and let us know. It's quite an interesting subject and I'd love to learn of more traditions!


ChezChani said...

That's quite interesting. Hopefully they don't break the good dishes! (It's a good thing there's someone like you to pick up the pieces.)

Jonara Blu Maui said...

wow..we humans are sure a destructive lot aren't we? lol! This was a very intersting and fun post to read. And I LOVE the black and white plate and teacup..that is so cute!

I'm LOLing at what chezchani said's so true!

Sarah said...

Wow! Very interesting Marjorie! And I'm totally loving that black and white set too!