Polterabend

Posted on 12. Jan, 2011 by in Uncategorized

Polterabend.

No one knows where nor when it was first created, but the Polterabend is a tradition in Germany where a couple whom recently married celebrate the union of marriage, yet also a way of saying goodbye to bachelorhood, by throwing dishware, ceramic tiles, flower pots even metallic silverware, toilets outside onto the street that is brought to this event, but what is not allowed is any glassware or mirrors as this brings bad luck.

It usually starts at the brides parents house or open space and while everybody can join, the bride and groom only mention the day and where, yet don’t invite anyone directly. Guest whom were unable to make it to the wedding itself visit the Polterabend, don’t usually bring any gifts but can give presents if they wish.

The clothing is usually more casual. Especially the bride and groom whom usually wear the latest clothes, because in some places the pants of the groom are burned at midnight and the bride’s shoes nailed to a wooden board. In some regions the bra of the bride, together with the pants of the groom is burned altogether. The ashes will be buried with a bottle of brandy. After a year the bottle is dug up again and emptied.

The custom of the Folk etymology is Porzellanzerbrechens interpreted saying: “Broken crockery brings you luck” basically. Originally from the pottery term “shard” referring  to all earthen vessels, not just the broken “Broken crockery brings you luck.

So now I have a quiz for my readers:

What do you call Polterabend in English?

11 Responses to “Polterabend”

  1. E. Nogg 12 January 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    “No one knows where nor when it was first created, but the Polterabend is a tradition in Germany whereby a couple who have recently married celebrate the union of marriage, and also say goodbye to bachelorhood, by throwing dishware, ceramic tiles, flower pots even metallic silverware and toilets that are brought to this event outside onto the street. However, what is not allowed is any glassware or mirrors as this brings bad luck.
    It usually starts at the bride’s parents’ house or an open space and, while everybody can join, the bride and groom only mention the day and where, yet don’t invite anyone directly. Guests who were unable to make it to the wedding itself visit the Polterabend; they don’t usually bring any gifts but can give presents if they wish.
    The clothing is usually more casual. Especially the bride and groom, who usually wear the latest clothes, because in some places the pants of the groom are burned at midnight and the bride’s shoes nailed to a wooden board. In some regions the bra of the bride, together with the pants of the groom, are burned altogether. The ashes are buried with a bottle of brandy. After a year the bottle will be dug up again and emptied.”
    I’ve just tidied up the grammar and made some aesthetic editing for you. Remember when to use whom and when to use who (if you’re completely lost, just go for ‘who’, as this is quite acceptable nowadays).
    To answer your question, I have never heard of such a tradition in England.

  2. Neil Lucock 12 January 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    We don’t have that tradition in England, although Greek restaurants have a tradition of breaking plates, it’s probably to avoid doing the washing-up.
    We’d just call it Polterabend, “throwing-evening” doesn’t sound half as good as the German word.

  3. marcia bernhard 13 January 2011 at 2:51 am #

    You asked for an English equivalent for ‘Polterabend’; check out the custom of what is called a ‘shivaree’.
    Thanks for your blogs.
    MB

  4. Beverly 13 January 2011 at 4:14 am #

    I don’t know of anything that corresponds to polterabend. The closest thing that I can think of is “shivaree”, an old-fashioned custom of playing pranks on the bride and groom. But I don’t know if it is practiced much today. And it generally doesn’t include breaking crockery.

  5. Bernie Martin 13 January 2011 at 4:20 am #

    there is no translation for Polterabend in english.
    use same word, like Kindergarten or Gesundheit

  6. Karen 15 January 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Isn’t Polterabend a celebration a few days before the wedding? Maybe I’m wrong. Would be interested to hear from other people regarding this. Thanks

  7. becky 15 January 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    I am English, and I have never heard of either polterabend or shivaree! I wonder if shivaree is the basis of modern stag-party and hen-party pranks?

    Some of the old people in the north of England will talk about a girl keeping or putting items “in her bottom drawer” – this is when an unmarried girl would collect or make items like tea-towels for her future house, and would keep them in a drawer in her bedroom ready for when she gets married and they need to furnish their new house. Even this is an old-fashioned phrase, but you might hear it mentioned in plays, etc.

  8. Evelyn 17 January 2011 at 1:54 am #

    Becky, the german Polterabend is celebrated after the Standesamts Hochzeit aka the offical court wedding (you have to get married in the court of law aka Standesamt first) and the wedding at Church on saturday or sunday. You can have a Standesamts Hochzeit and not have a Church wedding, but you can’t have a Church wedding and not have the official Standesamts Hochzeit first (Atheists would for excample only have a wedding celebration at the Standesamt and then maybe a reception afterwards or their Polterabend.
    The Polterabend is usually the celebration with friends, since it is not really custom to have friends at the actual reception after the wedding in church. You may have your closest friends there and many others show up at the Church, but that does not mean they are invited to the reception or they will go to the reception after the church wedding.
    Nothing like in the US where some weddings have a guest list of 300+ people. The larger group of people is usually attending the Polterabend, because you really don’t get an official invitation to it so you are really never a Polterabend crasher ;)

  9. CM Albrecht 21 January 2011 at 6:48 am #

    Keine Ahnung.

  10. GKW 28 January 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    Where I come from and that is eastern Germany the Polterabend is done the evening BEFORE the wedding…. believe me I’ve been there….

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