Abby Bresler is a 20-year-old woman from Lexington, Massachusetts and a Dartmouth ‘21. She is Jewish and identifies as Caucasian. Her immediate and extended family are Jewish and she grew up learning about Judaism from her family and in Hebrew school. On campus she is heavily involved in sustainability and currently lives with the interviewer at the Sustainable Living Center.
Cultural Context: Stomping on the glass serves as a representation of the fragility of human relationships and also the permanence of marriage. Not being able to put the glass back together after it is smashed symbolizes that there is no turning back to your previous life after you are married. Historically, breaking the glass serves to remind the couple of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and gives time for those present to recall the pain and loss suffered by the Jewish people and that they are in a world in need of healing.
Social Context:I asked my friend Abby if she knew about any marriage folklore and this is what she shared with me. Abby’s family is Jewish and her cousins are much older than her so she learned about this tradition while attending her cousins’ wedding when she was young. Additionally, in Hebrew school, at around the third grade, children learn about the lifecycle of Jewish traditions in a person’s life, including this tradition at weddings. This tradition takes place at the end of the wedding ceremony and is performed by the groom in front of all the guests. The glass can be anything, but is often from one of the newlyweds’ homes before marriage, and is wrapped in cloth or a napkin to prevent injury. Breaking the glass also ends the couple’s time under the Chuppah and is followed by everyone present yelling “Mazel tov!”
Item (Direct Quote):
“So there’s this tradition in Jewish weddings that, tradition of the groom. I don’t what they do in like same-sex marriages but like, and this is a very heteronormative tradition, but like the groom steps on a glass and like crushes it under his foot and I think it’s supposed to represent, check me on this, I think it’s supposed to represent the destruction of the second temple I’m like remembering that but I’m not exactly sure.“
“I think this is something that crosses most branches of Judaism… It’s like a pretty unifying tradition.”
I would think that this is the most well known of Jewish wedding traditions so I really appreciated hearing more about it and getting to know what it actually symbolizes.
Katrina Yu is a 20-year-old woman who grew up in Hong Kong and is a ‘21 at Dartmouth College. She is very involved in sustainability on campus and currently lives with the interviewer at the Sustainable Living Center.
Cultural Context: This tradition is an example of if-A-then-B superstition as if children jump the bed, then the couple will have many children. The desired outcome of the ceremony plays into the desire for a couple to have lots of children and particularly boys in traditional Chinese culture. The bed setting is organized by the parents or grandparents of the groom so they can pass on their luck and fertility to the couple.
Social Context: I asked my friend Katrina if she knew about any marriage folklore and this is what she shared with me. She first learned about this folklore when she was around seven and was one of the jumping children on the bed, though she was eventually asked to get off the bed. This tradition generally takes place about a week before the wedding ceremony, though the informant reported her experience taking place immediately after the wedding ceremony, and is a part of a larger ceremony of preparing the marital bed. The process of setting up the marital bed is attended only by close family, including the jumping children, and is generally organized by the grandmother of the groom. The more children that jump on the bed the better as this will bring the couple even more children. Additionally, the genders of the jumping children matter and, in Katrina’s case, more boys were wanted on the bed as that is the gender of child that the couple wanted.
Item (Direct Quote):
“So the folklore is that once the couple gets married we go to wherever they’re living in the future specifically their bedrooms and everyone gathers in their bedroom and the children the little children probably like under 7, they all get onto the bed and they jump on the bed because it will help the couple have lots of babies and especially because the couple wanted like boys like a boy in the future like they wanted more boys to jump on the bed than girls they and they thought that could help. Obviously, I don’t believe it but it’s something fun.”
“I was one of the jumping children, and when I heard that they wanted more boys on I got really mad.”
I think this folklore is a really interesting case of homeopathic magic and says a lot about a couple’s hopes for their marriage.
Sara Jaecks-Metzenberg is a 51-year-old woman living in Seattle, Washington. She grew up in a non-religious household in central Washington, has been married twice before this, and is a mother of two. She is currently married to Howard Metzenberg, who practices the Jewish religion, and is in the process of converting to Judaism because of this. She began the conversion practice around two years ago, shortly after her marriage to Howard, and finds the process challenging and enjoyable. My mother’s wedding was her first intro into Judaism, and she thinks of the event as my stepfather bringing her into his religion.
Cultural Context: Homeopathic magic ever present in Judaism, the most widely known of which is the tradition of lighting the Menorah during Hanukah to represent the oil that lasted for eight days, according to a passage in the Talmud, a sacred Jewish text. The Chuppah is another example of homeopathic magic as the Chuppah represents the home and it is meant to give the couple a happy life in their new home. Marriage is also a significant rite of transition in the Jewish religion with time spent under the Chuppah being the liminal stage. Additionally, the Chuppah is a representation of God’s influence as it is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
Social Context: I collected this folklore by asking my mother for a piece of folklore that occurred during her wedding to my stepfather. Since I was at the wedding, this was both of our first exposures to the tradition of the Chuppah and to come extent what it symbolizes, though she learned more about it afterwards while converting. The Chuppah is a sort of tent over the couple being married and the whole ceremony with the rabbi takes place underneath it. It is typically a premade structure that can be ornate or simply a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, which can add extra religious significance to the ceremony. The Chuppah represents the first home of the married couple and also God’s presence in the ceremony.
Item (Direct Quote):
“Something that was kind of important to us was the fact that I’m not Jewish—I mean even though I’m studying now—and Howard is Jewish. So we did what is called a Jewish style wedding so we couldn’t do it in a synagogue we couldn’t do it uh formally umm and so we had a friend, who happens to be a rabbi, who married us and we’re supposed to be under a Chuppah, which is a canopy, and uh we didn’t want to go all the way so what Howard did which was very sweet he took his tallit, which is the robes that you wear when you’re, when you’re in temple and he had four people hold that over our head you can you get a tallit when you go through your bar mitzvah right, or bat mitzvah, but bar mitzvah for Howard and he so it was his personal canopy that he did at the last moment he he held it up over our heads then we did we did all the sort of ceremonies that you would normally do only I had no idea really what was going on at the time.”
“It was very sweet to feel like you’re, you know, you’re kind of enclosed in a tent inside of your house inside our house and it was where everything happened and so it gave us a sense of intimacy to the ceremony for me.”
I really enjoyed witnessing this tradition during my mother’s wedding. I could tell the experience meant a lot to her.
Informant: Libby Flint, age 59, New Orleans resident of 36 years, originally from Upstate New York and Vermont. Collected May 22, 2016 and recorded on iphone.
Verbal Lore: folk Speech, slang
United States of America
context: to be a member of a wedding party.
“If you ae going to be in a wedding party, you ‘Stand in the wedding.’
Collectors commentary: The origins of this term are unclear, but it only seems to exist in New orleans and the surrounding areas, as such, it is a slang phrase that is unique to NO and has been included in this list.
Keywords: New Orleans, stand in a wedding, wedding, wedding party