Why Break the Glass at a Jewish Wedding

Probably the most well-known Jewish ritual is the custom of stomping on a glass at the conclusion of a Jewish wedding. In case you’re wondering, it’s not the same cup from which the couple drinks at the wedding.

You can interpret this ritual in many ways. Traditionalists say that the shattered glass refers to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Some believe that breaking the glass is a reminder that even at a time of great joy, shattering and loss, too, are important parts of human experience.

Perhaps that which is shattered represents old structures or limitations that must be released in order to create space for new possibilities. Some people say the noise is supposed to drive away evil spirits, or even that the act represents the intensity and release of sexual union.

Whatever the case, as soon as the glass is broken, everyone in attendance joyously shouts “Mazel tov!” and the wedding ends in raucous singing and celebrating.

While most folks use an empty wine glass, some people use a light bulb. The important thing is to wrap the object up in cloth (a napkin is usually not big enough) so that no one gets hurt.

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