The greek wedding tradition of breaking plates

Written by rose sartaguda
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The greek wedding tradition of breaking plates
Break plates for good luck. (souvenir plates image by Svetlana Tikhonova from Fotolia.com)

The Greek wedding ritual of breaking plates is believed to have evolved from an ancient custom. In earlier times, newlyweds broke plates in the doorway of their new home, as this was believed to ward off evil spirits. Over the years, the tradition has evolved into the breaking of plates during the wedding reception.

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Good Fortune

Newlyweds smash plates on the floor after the wedding celebration, as guests join in choruses of "Oopah!" to wish them good luck in their new life ahead. The ritual also symbolises abundance. According to mygreektravels.com, to the Greek, it's like saying, "We have so many plates we can break them!", a tradition which is very much similar to lighting a fire using paper money.

Token of Love

In earlier times, lovers used to break plates in half when they had to part ways. This was so they could recognise each other by matching the two halves upon meeting again even after several years. Today, in homage of this tradition, jewellers create small split versions using Phaistos disks so lovers can wear one half each.

Traditions

According to ibreakplates.com, the tradition of breaking plates in praise of a musician or dancer is deemed to be part of "kefi"--the irrepressible expression of emotion and joy. It is also customary to break plates during artistic performances as a way to protect the artists (musicians and dancers) from the malevolent spirits that may be present.

Origins

One belief regarding the custom of breaking plates is that it sprang from an ancient tradition of breaking ceramic plates when someone dies, so as to break the cycle of death in the family. Another belief is that people began to break plates during joyful celebrations (since breaking things is more commonly associated with anger and violence) in order to fool wicked spirits into believing it was a violent event and thus, drive them away.

Modern Times

Most areas in contemporary times require a license for the breaking of plates ritual in public places. This is to prevent injury among the customers and to protect restaurant owners from expensive lawsuits that might result from such incidence. In modern Greece, several dining places and wedding reception halls are encouraging the throwing of flowers as an alternative to breaking plates, as this is much cheaper and easier to clean up.

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