Before you decide to buy the plane tickets, book one of the Mykonos villas for rental, and travel to The Island of the Winds for your summer holiday, there is a very important piece of Greek culture you need to know about. Greek plate smashing is one of the most exciting and popular traditions this sunny country has to offer, so read this article if you want to learn everything there is to know about this fun custom.
Why Is Greek Plate Smashing Such a Popular Tradition and What Is the History Behind It?
When you think about Greece, while you’re picturing beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise water, there is a little voice in the back of your head, yelling OPA! Greeks are known all over the world for their hospitality, friendliness, and free spirit.
That’s why they provide the best and most fun nights out on the town. If you want to party like the Greeks do, you will need to learn a thing or two about the Greek tradition of breaking plates on the ground when the evening reaches its high.
The History of This Ritual Started With a Completely Different Purpose – This Greek Tradition Was Used at Funerals
While the breaking plates tradition today is known as a fun and joyful custom, it didn’t start off that way. There is no way to determine with certainty when this tradition started, but it’s been around for decades. However, during its beginnings, it was a ritual performed only at Greek Orthodox funerals as a way to deal with grief.
Throwing and breaking a plate on the ground next to the grave of the departed was used as a way to mourn the loss of a loved one. The breaking of the plate symbolized the end of life and the start of a new beginning. The more plates a person had by their graveside, the more loved and mourned they were.
It Took a Turn When It Started Being Used at Joyous Events as a Way to Warn Off Evil
From its very beginning, this ritual was associated with protection as a way to bring good to a bad situation. So, it makes sense that it would, later on, be used in similar situations – to warn off bad energy and evil spirits.
It was believed that joyful occasions such as weddings would attract evil spirits, which is why plate breaking started to be used as a way to camouflage and trick those spirits into avoiding the happy occasion.
The happy couple would be obligated to smash a plate on the ground in order to fight off the evil that was coming. By practicing this superstition on joyful occasions, plate smashing slowly transitioned from a mourning act to a celebratory practice.
Before It Became Standard Practice on Fun Nights Out, Plate Smashing Was Used as a Display of Wealth
Once it made its way into celebrations and other happy occasions, plate smashing became a very common practice, but only for the richest ones. After a celebration, the plates would be thrown on the ground and broken instead of simply washed and preserved.
That way, people would show off their wealth and status, proving that they had more than enough and that dishes weren’t worth anything to them after being used. When the plates were being smashed, people would yell out Opa! as a warning and a way to attract attention.
The most accurate translation would be Hey! This action was also followed by loud, traditional music, singing, and dancing. The once-mourning ritual quickly became a worldwide popular and recognizable Greek custom, used as a way to celebrate life and have fun.
Breaking Dishes Was Ultimately Banned In Greece in 1969 and Replaced With Flowers
During the autocracy of Georgios Papadopoulos (1967-1973), a new law was introduced in 1969, banning the popular plate-smashing tradition in all of the nightclubs and tavernas in the country. It was a safety precaution because the custom became so popular that shards of pottery would be flying around everywhere on a night out, potentially hurting people.
Because of this new ban, people had to get creative, and they started using and throwing flowers instead of plates. The taverna would sell trays of flowers throughout the night, and sometimes even paper napkins were used because fresh flowers could get expensive.
The Tradition Continued Once Plaster Plates Were Introduced
People never gave up on the old tradition and continued to make up creative solutions to replace real pottery. That’s why, in 1974, special plaster plates began to be used, as they were a safe alternative to potentially dangerous pottery.
After that, the custom once again started to bloom, and it became insanely popular before dialing down at the end of the millennium. In case you want to throw a party in your luxury Mykonos villa rental, this could be an interesting touch to it.
If You’re Looking to Smash Some Plates and Have a Great Time – You Need to Attend a Greek Night
Nowadays, in tavernas in Greece, plate smashing is still alive, but this custom is only reserved for special occasions, also known as special Greek nights. This is an event in a taverna that offers an authentic Greek experience. Traditional dishes are served, traditional music is played, there is usually a live singer, everybody sings and dances, and at the end of the night – you smash a few plates on the ground.
The atmosphere of the evening is spectacular, and you are bound to have a good time. But you should note that the plates are rarely free of charge, and you will have to pay a euro or two for each plate you’ve broken throughout the evening. Spare no expense, as this is a unique opportunity that you should definitely experience if you travel to Greece.
If you end up going, you should know that there are a couple of different ways you can break a plate. Here are the three most common methods:
- Simply throw it on the ground near the singer as a sign of respect for their talent,
- Break it over your head,
- Stack at least 5 plates in one hand and then use another plate in your other hand to punch through the stack as if you were using a hammer.
Visit The Hippie Fish If You Want an Authentic Greek Experience
Mykonos is known for its iconic nightlife, so you best believe there is no place better to experience a traditional Greek night. One of the best restaurants on the island offers an authentic experience of breaking plates. In Greek restaurants, plate smashing isn’t often available, so make sure to go to Hippie Fish when you visit Mykonos.
The restaurant is located on Agios Ioannis Beach, it offers delicious local cuisine, and the food prices are pretty reasonable. So, make sure to book a table in advance if you want to have a fun night you will never forget. Reservations can be hard to get, so feel free to ask your Mykonos concierge for some help.
Get Ready to Yell Opa – Book One of Private Villas in Mykonos for Your Dream Vacation
Besides the unforgettable, fun nights filled with lots of ouzo and laughter, Mykonos is known for so much more. The breathtaking Island of the Winds is one of the most beautiful Greek islands, with some of the best beaches Greece has to offer, amazing sunset views, and mesmerizing white and blue Greek architecture.
So, don’t miss out on the opportunity to have the summer vacation you’ve always dreamed of – contact The Ace VIP and book one of our Mykonos luxury villas. Make sure to rent a car if you want to get around the island easier in order to see all of the attractions. After you’ve smashed a plate or two, treat yourself to a Mykonos yacht rental and experience a new dimension of luxury.