Toronto Artist Creates Jewish Wedding Mementos From Broken Glass
Understanding traditions from other cultures helps bring people together. Wedding customs may vary from religion to religion, but the objective is the same. One Canadian artist is using her talents to honor the Jewish tradition of breaking a glass during the ceremony to create a unique piece of art for the married couple. Art has long been one way that people understand cultural diversity. It fosters bonds in the community and promotes intercultural awareness. Read on to learn more about the tradition of breaking glass and a special glass artist who forges beautiful modern art.
Breaking of the Glass
In most Jewish wedding ceremonies, the groom breaks a glass as part of the ritual. Typically, a wine glass or light bulb is placed in a small bag, and then at the appropriate moment, the groom smashes it with his foot. There are many different thoughts behind the tradition. It is believed that breaking the glass:
- Symbolizes the breaking down of barriers between individuals
- Reminds of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem
- Reminds that life is fragile
- Teaches that life brings sorrow along with the joy
- Scares away any evil spirits that might spoil the occasion
Glass breaking is not unique to the Jewish culture. In the Greek culture, plates are smashed at weddings. It’s said that the tradition began as a way to deal with sorrow. Over time, Greeks began smashing glass at weddings to make the spirits think it was a sad occasion instead of a happy one, which would keep them away. The glass breaking is also an Italian tradition, with both the bride and groom smashing the glass into as many shards as possible. The number of pieces of glass is said to represent the number of happy years the couple will have together.
Modern Art With a Traditional Twist
Terri Mittelmann, a fused glass artist in Toronto, takes the glass from Jewish ceremonies and creates an exquisite, unique memento for the couple. Mittelmann provides mouth-blown original glass in colors that the couple chooses. The glass is placed in a bag to be broken during the wedding. After the wedding, the shards are returned to Mittelmann, and she creates a lasting memory. These glass shards can be made into a Seder plate, which is a special platter for the meal during Passover; a menorah, the candlestick holder used during Hanukkah; or a mezuzah, the box beside the door of a Jewish house that houses a parchment with scripture.
If you ever have a chance to visit Mittelmann’s gallery, Get2Give Glassworks, it’s worth your time to explore her beautiful pieces. You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate her modern take on Judaica art. Now that you know that the glass art honors an age-old tradition of happiness and joy, you can better understand the culture and see how it relates to your own customs and beliefs. Mittelmann is an artist who offers special pieces for Jewish couples, but she also brings knowledge to others who have never experienced a Jewish wedding.
Weddings Around the Globe
Noisemaking holds a place in many different weddings and ceremonies. In the Chinese culture, performers dressed as felines dance to loud music to scare away the evil spirits during the reception. German tradition has wedding guests bring old dishes to break at the party because they believe it’s good luck.
Cultures around the world weave traditions into their own identities, but it’s easy to see that many nationalities celebrate for the same reasons. Weddings are a time of joyous celebration for all – Jewish, Chinese, Christian, or atheist. What matters are the relationships and families as well as honoring the traditions that bring you comfort and delight. Understanding different cultures is one way to strengthen community bonds.