In earlier times, Greek newlyweds broke plates in the doorway of their new home, as this was believed to ward off evil spirits. Over the years, the tradition has evolved into the breaking of plates during the wedding reception.
Newlyweds smash plates on the floor after the wedding celebration as guests join in choruses of "Oopah!" to wish them good luck in their new life ahead. The ritual also symbolizes abundance.
Token of Love
In earlier times, lovers used to break plates in half when they had to part ways. This was so they could recognize each other by matching the two halves upon meeting again even after several years. Today, in homage of this tradition, jewelers create small split versions using Phaistos disks so lovers can wear one half each.
According to The Broken Plate Pendant Company, the tradition of breaking plates in praise of a musician or dancer is deemed to be part of “kefi”-- the irrepressible expression of emotion and joy. It is customary to break plates during artistic performances as a way to protect the artists from the malevolent spirits that may be present.
One belief regarding the custom of breaking plates is that it sprang from an ancient tradition of breaking ceramic plates when someone dies, so as to break the cycle of death in the family. Another belief is that people began to break plates during joyful celebrations -- since breaking things is more commonly associated with anger and violence -- in order to fool wicked spirits into believing it was a violent event and thus, drive them away.
Most areas in contemporary times require a license for the breaking of plates ritual in public places. This is to prevent injury among the customers and to protect restaurant owners from expensive lawsuits that might result from such incidences. In modern Greece, several dining places and wedding reception halls are encouraging the throwing of flowers as an alternative to breaking plates, as this is much cheaper and easier to clean up.