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Foreign Celebration: Polterabend


Have a friend with a tendency to break things? This German matrimonial custom will let that inner klutz shine.

Polterabend (from poltern, or “making noise”; and Abend, or “evening”) is a one night German wedding porcelain-breaking tradition dating back to pre-Christian times. The Germans have long believed that shards bring luck (Scherben bringen Glück), since a full jar was associated with good fortune.

polterabend turnup

As an informal gathering, the Polterabend helps to include those who did not receive a formal invite to the wedding ceremony. This includes anyone who may have wanted the bride or groom for themselves; what better socially-acceptable way to publically vent? Friends and family of the couple bring porcelain, stoneware, flowerpots, or ceramics (excluding toilets, sinks, glass, and/or mirrors) to the bride’s house. The guests then proceed to shatter these items to help bring good fortune to the couple’s marriage. The engaged pair then cleans up the pile of shards, as this symbolizes their willingness to work together through upcoming difficulties as a married couple. The whole event lasts until midnight.


Here’s how to adapt this German tradition to your needs:

(1)   Pick a time before a big event when people need to release some steam. For example, try the night before finals start.

(2)  Locate a private hard-top setting, such as a driveway or private sidewalk. Avoid grassy areas, because shrubs will make cleanup more annoying. Clear the area of small children.

(3)  Informally invite people by word-of-mouth. Ask guests to bring breakable items.

(4)  Inform all that the dress code, if there is any, is casual. Button-downsgraphic tees and jeans work just fine. Heavier footwear preferred, such as boots.

(5)  Bring two push brooms, two dustpans, and some heavy-duty trash bags.

(6)  Optional: Prepare drinks and food, and maybe Beerfest-inspired music.

(7)  After guests have arrived, have them gather around a designated spot to begin breaking things!

(8)  Have the group decide on two people who will collaborate to sweep up the mess.




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Hel Ya

Helen Yang ("Hel Ya", Writer) synthesizes Turn Up's creative energies into online form. She has partied in cities outside of New York from L.A. to Shanghai. Hel Ya currently resides in Queens, NY.

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