Polterabend, if not a weird tradition, is a very strand wedding custom practiced in Germany. In this tradition, the guests arrive a night before the wedding, and together all of them break porcelain. Such an act is believed to bring good luck to the couple. The old saying, ‘Shards bring luck’ was coined many centuries ago. Shard, at that time, meant clay pots without any cracks. It was then believed that having shards without any cracks is a very lucky sign.
Polterabend is German term derived from ‘poltern’, which means making racket, and ‘abend’, which means evening.
This event is usually practice out of the house of the bride. The couple may or may not invite people for this custom, but they certainly do announce the time and date of the event. Most people who intend to come for the event get information through word-of-mouth. Besides, the couple also uses this event to invite people for the wedding to whom they were not able to send invitation.
Although this event was first started with breaking clay pots many centuries ago, guests now break all kinds of things made of porcelain. These include flowerpots, stonewares, ceramic items like tiles, bowls, sinks, etc. However, people are not allowed to break glass items, as glass represents happiness, which should never be broken or thrown away. Breaking mirrors, in particular, are strictly prohibited as it is believed to bring 7 years of bad luck to the couple.
At the end of this porcelain-breaking custom, the couple cleans up the area, before calling it day. The couple is made to clean the broken pieces in order to make them realize that life has just become harder and there is lot of hard work awaiting them. But the more important message is, if they both work together, they will be able to overcome any problem.
However, the new generation has altered the custom of Polterabend, which has now become Polter-wedding. Instead of breaking porcelain before the wedding night, the guests break it during the wedding day. It is one of the most popular German wedding traditions.