In many countries, it’s normal to have celebrations before a wedding.  However, one event in Germany is especially unusual.  “Polterabend” is an old custom where people gather together before a wedding and break things.  Throughout the evening, the engaged couple and their friends throw porcelain objects on the ground.  Ceramics, metal, and toilet bowls are also broken.   Glass is not smashed because it means happiness.  Mirrors are also left intact because it is bad luck to break a mirror.

After the objects are destroyed, the engaged couple must clean it all up.  Many people believe that cleaning helps the couple become a team.   This is important because it shows the couple that they will need to work together in difficult times.  It is also believed that this ceremony brings luck to the engaged couple.

Because the polterabend festivities can be quite lively, polterabend is often celebrated several nights before the wedding.  This allows the bride and groom to get a good sleep on the eve of their matrimony and be fresh and awake the next morning.  Recently, polterabend has been combined with a wedding ceremony to make for a “polter-wedding”.  This has become more popular in the last few years.

In German, “polter” means “to make a lot of noise” and “abend” means “evening”.  Although it isn’t clear when polterabend began, it seems to have had a religious meaning in Germany a very long time ago.  In ancient times, Germans believed that throwing broken pieces of things helped to keep away bad spirits.  It may have also been a way for people to let out their frustrations by letting them break things.