Just the sight of it is an absolute nightmare to any collector of Wedgwood Chinese Flowers or Lenox Kingston pieces. And for anyone who’s scoured every store and every discount china and tableware matching service for that elusive Royal Doulton Sarabande dish, the entire concept seems an entire, tragic, waste.
That being said, if you can get past the idea that it is wasteful, the ancient Greek tradition of smashing plates is actually one of the world’s most beautiful.
While the actual origin of the Greek tradition of smashing plates is unknown, the earliest known Greek plate-smashing occurred when a newly married couple would enter their home for the first time. This was an effort to ward off evil spirits who would attempt to curse the new couple in their attempts to build a family. This was an ancient ritual, as we previously mentioned, and the tradition has since shifted to the bride and groom simply smashing plates during their wedding reception.
While the plate-smashing at a wedding reception was initially intended to ward off evil, there is also a symbol of abundance clearly at play. The intention, or at the very least, the message, sent by smashing ones plates (whether they be paper of Wedgwood Chinese Flowers), is that the couple is so blessed, whether it be through financial means or just by having each other, that they can show a total disregard for their own property, intentionally destroying plates.
The breaking of a dish as a symbol of love is seen in modern jewelry today. Any jewelry store, or discount retail store for that matter, will typically posses a two-piece circle or heart for two lovers to carry around separately. What many people don’t realize is that this comes from the ancient tradition of two lovers who had to part ways who would break a plate in half and carry their piece around with them.
In modern Greece, the tradition of plate smashing is still practiced in many every-day restaurants. However, a majority of districts (both in Greece and around the world) now require that the owners or managers of dining areas apply for a special permit that allows them to publicly smash plates. Apparently this is to protect customers and passerby’s from debris, however some would argue it is just a simple government regulation set forth to use ancient traditions as a means for bringing in more money.
Many Greek restaurants and wedding halls today encourage their customers to toss flowers rather than smashing plates. Not only does it get them out of paying for the government permit, it’s also a whole lot easier to clean up afterwards.
Does this mean I’m going to stand up at my next dinner party and take my most cherished Lenox Mckinlet dishware and smash it on the dining room floor? Certainly not. But I’m certainly going to look for a traditional Greek restaurant that will let me do it with their dinnerware.