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Weddings and “Polterabend” bachelor parties

Marriage is often followed by engagement. The engaged pair exchange presents and make a commitment to get married in the future. In Germany since 1875 it has been prohibited to undergo a religious wedding before the civil ceremony, under the Civil Marriage Act. On the evening before the wedding a “Polterabend” or traditional bachelor party is often celebrated. Guests bring porcelain and crockery (not glass) with them and throw them at the door of the house and smash them on the floor so that they break into pieces with a large crash. The noise is intended to drive away evil spirits. It also shows that the marriage should not break into pieces. The betrothed sweep away the shards and prepare themselves for a harmonious life together (Shown by the saying “Scherben bringen Glück” or “Shards bring good fortune”)

HochzeitThe bride usually wears a white wedding dress with a veil to the ceremony and the bridegroom wears a dark suit, perhaps with a tailcoat. Flowers are the plants of love, so the bride carries them in her hand and small children scatter them in front of her. The wedding car which brings the bride and groom to the registry office or church is also rather bawdily decorated with flowers and is often a chrome-covered classic car such as a chic cabriolet or an elegant horse-drawn carriage. After the ceremony the newly married couple sometimes have to break a wooden block to prove their strength together. The husband carries the bride over the threshold of their shared home.