Even if you’ve never been to a Jewish wedding you are likely familiar with the tradition of the breaking of the glass. The tradition has been depicted in movies and on television yet rarely with an explanation. Upon marriage, the groom stomps on a glass with his right foot as the guests shout Mazel Tov, or congratulations. So what is behind this Jewish custom?
As many religious customs, it is steeped in history. The breaking of glass is said to take place as a reminder that no matter how happy the occasion, as in this case a wedding, no true joy may be found until the temple is rebuilt in the city of Jerusalem. In some weddings a solemn song may even be sung prior to the glass breaking.
Throughout time, this tradition has taken on newer meanings. For the Jewish people it includes the trials of the Inquisitions, the Holocaust and even today’s struggles in the Middle East. The breaking of glass today has even taken on even a broader message that sadness is but temporary.
For many, the breaking of glass is to serve as a reminder that we should all celebrate the joys of life and love. It can also serve as a reminder that such joy must be tempered. Weddings are full of traditions, many of them unique to an ethnic group or religion. The breaking of the glass is a Jewish tradition that continues to stand the test of time.