Tuesday, May 18, 2010

“Mazel Tov" - breaking a glass at Jewish wedding reception

In the Black Eyed Peas smash hit single, “I Gotta Feeling,” we hear the words, “Mazel Tov.” Even if you have no Jewish background, you probably can guess that this term is associated with celebration. This term, however, is the same term used with “The Breaking Glass Jewish Wedding Tradition.”

The breaking of the drinking glass occurs at the end of the Jewish wedding ceremony when the groom stomps down on a glass to crush it, and thereafter the guests shout, “Mazel Tov!” Have you ever wondered where the breaking glass Jewish wedding tradition comes from and what it means?

There are many explanations of why we do this and where the actual Jewish wedding tradition came from. Here are a few of the most popular explanations:

Superstition: A loud noise is thought to drive away evil spirits that may slow down the celebration.

Consummation of Marriage: A breaking of the glass represents symbolically the virginal bride giving herself to the groom and the consummation of the marriage.

Fragility: The glass symbolizes the love of the bride and groom and breaking the glass shows how this love is fragile, so it must be cared for that it not be broken.

Broken World: A reminder that although this couple came together as a strong single union, the world as a whole is broken and needs mending done, together.

Foreverness: A broken Jewish wedding glass is forever changed, likewise, the couple are forever changed by the marriage and take on a new form.

Many Children: Be Fruitful. A hope that your happiness will be as plentiful as the shards of glass…or that your children will be as plentiful as the shards of glass.
Sadness/Joy: A reminder that even in times of great joy that there is sadness. That life will bring sadness as well as joy.

So which do you choose? Couples should choose the interpretation that resonates with them and this will make that part of your ceremony more meaningful. Many couples like to include a brief explanation in their wedding program that describes which interpretation they have chosen and what it means to them.

Any glass may be used for the Jewish wedding glass, although most couples choose a special glass, perhaps colored glass. Make certain the glass you choose is not too thick. (Remember, it needs to be easily broken when stepped on!) It is typically wrapped in a cloth napkin to avoid dangerous flying glass shards. Sometimes it is enclosed in a pre-made cloth bag.

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