Plate smashing, a traditional Greek folk custom involving the smashing of plates or glasses during celebratory occasions. In popular culture, the practice is most typical of foreigners’ stereotypical image of Greece, and while it occurs more rarely today, it continues to be seen on certain occasions, such as weddings, although plaster plates are more likely to be used.
The custom probably derives from an ancient practice of ritually “killing” plates on mourning occasions, as a means of dealing with loss. Breaking plates may also be related to the ancient practise of conspicuous consumption, a display of one’s wealth, as plates or glasses are thrown into a fireplace following a banquet instead of being washed and reused.
In 1969, the military dictatorship of Georgios Papadopoulos that had suspended democracy and ruled Greece autocratically from 1967-1974, banned plate smashing to the great disappointment of Greeks and foreign tourists alike. While it is no longer officially allowed at Greek nightclubs, but still happens occasionally. For private celebrations such as weddings, modern Greeks may purchase specially-produced plaster plates, which are less expensive and dangerous, while being more easily broken. Another modern variation on the custom is for diners at small Greek restaurants or tavernas to buy trays of flowers that they can throw at singers and each other.