The Jewish religion has been around for over 3 000 years and there are tens of thousands living in South Africa that practice Judaism. Various traditions and rituals are performed during the union of a couple, one of which is the famous breaking of the glass.
Here is the history and meaning behind this tradition:
When a Jewish couple ties the knot, they marry under a canopy called a Chuppah which must have four corners and be covered by a roof. The Chuppah is a symbol of the new home the married couple will build together.
Once the nuptials have concluded, the groom (sometimes the bride too) will step on a cloth bag that contains glass in order to break it. Everyone then shouts Mazel Tov! Which means congratulations or good luck. This is known as the ‘breaking the glass’ tradition’ and is meant to symbolise the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Temple of Jerusalem was a centre for worship in ancient Israel. However, it was destroyed in the Siege of Jerusalem by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE. The Second Temple, built soon afterward, was also destroyed.
By honouring this sad moment in Jewish history, this tradition is meant to symbolise that there is sadness in joy and that you should never forget about all the pain in the world even on the most joyous of occasions. It also represents how important it is to stand together and persevere through hard times.
Couples often collect the broken shards of glass after the ceremony and save them as a memento of their special day.