Imagine this scenario, you are eating in a fancy Greek restaurant, minding your own business and suddenly you hear a plate smashing into the ground. But don’t fret, this is normal. So you’re probably wondering why this is happening?
In its earliest form, plate smashing may be a survival of the ancient custom of ritually "killing" the ceramic vessels used for feasts commemorating the dead.The voluntary breaking of plates, which is a type of controlled loss, may also have helped participants in dealing with the deaths of their loved ones, a loss which they could not control.
Similar offerings may also have been presented at other times to include the dead in festival proceedings, with the result that this custom for the dead began to be tied in with all kinds of celebrations.
One also has to be suspicious of the ancient wandering potters who used to travel from village to village making their wares wherever the clay was good and there was enough wood to fire up a kiln.
Breaking plates can also be a symbol of anger, and the sound of shattering crockery is a classic part of domestic disturbances. Since plate breaking often occurs at happy occasions, it may have begun as a way of fooling malicious spirits into thinking that the event was a violent one instead of a celebration.
Breaking plates is also an act which implies abundance, as in "we have so many plates we can break them." It's similar to lighting a fire with a piece of paper money.
But breaking plates is now considered a dangerous practice due to flying shards, and perhaps also because of intoxicated tourists who have poor aim and may hit the dancers or musicians.
It is officially discouraged and Greece actually requires a license for establishments who want to allow it.
If you're offered plates to throw during dances or other performances, be aware that these plates are typically not free and they will be tallied up at the end of the evening, usually at least a euro or two each. They are expensive noisemakers. Try applauding or calling out "Opa!" instead. And if you're wearing sandals, step carefully through the shards. Closing your eyes at the moment of smashing the plate is also an excellent idea.
There are plenty of weird traditions all over the world. There are some funny and even absurd ones. But all they are just trivial things until you experience them yourselves. So why not go on an adventure with BCN Montjuic Tourist Point and let’s experience the weird and the wonderful first hand.