I first learned about polterabend from my brother and sister-in-law last week, at Thanksgiving. They’ve been living in Germany for a few years now and have so many great stories about life abroad, but this particular story resonated with me given the fact that it was wedding related.
So it turns out, there’s a tradition in Germany called polterabend, where guests are invited to gather the night before the wedding and smash porcelain. And, we’re not talking dainty dishes… people apparently bring full toilets and even bath tubs to the occasion. The bigger the mess the better, apparently, because only the couple of honor is tasked with the responsibility of cleaning up the mess once the festivities have concluded.
But… why? Well it turns out, this all relates back to the old adage Scherben bringen Glück, which translates to shards bring luck.
Once the festivities are over, the couple is tasked with cleaning up the mess – this is symbolic of the couple working together through difficult conditions and situations in life. If you can clean shattered toilets and dishes and bath tubs together, you can literally get through anything… right?!
Want to throw a polterabend of your own? Here’s how:
Generally, the couple announces plans for the evening, but no official written invitations are sent out. Couples typically rely on word of mouth, and those who want to attend, do so. Many couples use this festivity as a way to include people they’re not able to invite to the wedding itself. Something to eat/drink is arranged. Sometimes, guests bring gifts to the polterabend.
Polterabend generally happens in front of the house of the bride (or her parents’ home), but exceptions are made (usually for space considerations).
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