an American in Germany: a blog about culture, language, society
Thursday, August 9, 2012
"Scherben bringen Glück": Polterabend, a German wedding tradition
So after our day in Tübingen we drove through the windy mountainous Black Forest roads to Schramberg, where Philipp's mom now runs a Gasthof-Restaurant on top of a mountain next to castle ruins. Amazing. I will run out of adjectives like "amazing" pretty quickly here. :) The restaurant has an outdoor terrace with great views over the valley and forest, and the hotel rooms were super cozy. They generously hosted us (three Americans plus other friends and Philipp) for two nights at the Burgstüble, and they hosted the "Polterabend" party for the couple Thursday night.
Polterabend is a traditional party held before the wedding, traditionally the night before, but sometimes a week or so before. Friends and family bring porcelain and ceramic and break it at the doorstep of the couple (or the bride's parents' house, or whatever). I guess often they just say the date and friends and colleagues can also come by who maybe aren't invited or can't come to the actual wedding celebration. Anyways, people bring a bag of dishes and throw them and break them on the ground. The groom has to sweep it up (or sometimes they do it together), and someone usually comes by once or twice and dumps out or scatters what he has already swept together. :) True Schadenfreude. It was great! So German! Really a fun tradition. Oh, and you can't bring glass. There is a saying "Scherben bringen Glück", or "shards bring luck", but not glass or mirrors. So it was all porcelain or ceramic.
Below is a little video from when we went out to dinner Wed night. Philipp's stepfather is obviously used to these super scary windy narrow roads!
Oh and I didn't mention...before the party got started on Thursday I managed to sneak in an 11-mile run, which was sooo much fun, but so challenging. In Berlin I get no altitude. It was probably some of the most scenic landscape I've ever run in. First down the cliff, past a little chapel in the forest and more castle ruins, down to the town of Schramberg, then along a little river for a flat section, then back up with a super steep climb back up. It was funny because there was a man biking. I came up behind him, and it was so steep running was more efficient than biking. (He was also probably about 65! biking up a mountain!) I said something to him about how steep it was, and he said, ja ja and that he would probably see me again at the next turn-around. And sure enough, it flattened out, he passed me, then I passed him again... :) Funny. Out in the middle of nowhere in the forest.
People playing some hacky-sack in the castle ruins during the party.
For the party they grilled and had beer, and lit a little fire. Some friends played guitar, we got to start meeting family and other friends. It went late into the night and then some people camped in tents in the castle ruins.