After being engaged (ok, I will be honest… many months before I was engaged) I began researching German wedding traditions. One event that I came across seemed so fun and unlike anything we do in the states.
“Polterabend” comes from German verb poltern (to make a racket) + noun Abend (evening). Historically, “Shards bring luck” (German: Scherben bringen Glück). The expression is derived from a time when the word “shard” referred to the unbroken clay pots of pottery makers, and not just the broken pieces. It was said that a full jar was a lucky thing to have, therefore the expression “shards bring luck”.
The night before a couple is married they have a large celebration party and guests bring porcelain dishes – porcelain is meant to bring luck to the couple. During the course of the evening the dishes are THROWN onto the ground, which results in a lot of noise and a very big mess. Flowerpots, ceramics tiles, sinks and toilet bowls are also “happily-thrown” items. Glass is forbidden as glass stands for happiness that should not be broken and especially not mirrors (as a broken mirror will bring seven years of bad luck). The couple must clean up the pile of shards (similar to the sweeping up of rose petals that Norman and I did after our ceremony). This is supposed to remind the couple that they will have to work together throughout their marriage.
We were invited to the Polterabend of Chris and Miriam (two of Norman’s friends) and it was pretty close to being exactly what I had pictured this crazy tradition would look like. There were large tents set up around the outside of the house, a band was playing, bratwurst were being grilled, and beer and wine were in abundance. The couple had on funny matching shirts that were paired with extra big smiles on their faces. The party was held at Chris’s parents house in a village that is practically connected to the city of Trier, but has a small town feel. Basically the entire village was there, along with a ton of family and friends. We left around 12:30am (it was a Wednesday night btw), but Norman said the party would go until the sun came up. The neighbors wouldn’t be bothered, because well, they were the ones partying and making all the noise. It was fun and crazy celebration.
I wonder if there is a way we can somehow tie this tradition into our wedding celebrations? Usually it would be done before the first civil ceremony, but hey, we are combining both cultures into something that works for us so maybe this can be squeezed in as well. I will keep everyone informed if we decide to request porcelian as part of your packing list for Mexico!
*Thank you wikipedia for your quick and easy explanation of a Polterabend… what did we do before the internet?!?!?