Most Jewish weddings conclude with the groom stamping on a glass wrapped in a cloth. This unusual ritual has its roots deep in Jewish history and identity.
The breaking of the glass is a delightful characteristic of Jewish weddings, but the joyous congratulations which accompany the event belie the sombre meaning of the ritual.
The Meaning of Breaking the Glass
The most widespread meaning attached to the glass-smashing ritual is that it symbolises the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD. As the Temple functioned as the centre of worship in Judaism, its destruction has been devastating to the Jewish people. By remembering this national sadness during the joyous festivities of a wedding, Jews “set Jerusalem above [their] highest joy” (Psalm 137). This celebration of Jewish identity is seen as auspicious for the new couple, placing the beginning of their married life within the framework of the joys and sorrows of Jews throughout history.