“Breaking plates is not some silly thing we only see about Greeks in the media. We don’t do it every day, but at big occasions, we break some plates! Like spitting, it is more popular among Greeks in Greece than ones who are in the American world of Greek Orthodoxy. Also like spitting, it is meant to ward off the evil spirits. It is believed that the loud sounds the plates make are meant to scare off evil spirits, but also to symbolize when the party can really begin. It is common for very civil, professional parties to turn wild after the breaking of a plate.
My informant was born in Anaheim, California, however, she spent most of her childhood on Greece’s Mainland, particularly in Thessaloniki. Both of her parents grew up and emigrated from Greece only twenty years ago. SK, my informant, learned this from not understanding why parties would get wilder after the breaking of the plate and said she remembered it being like a food fight level of energy.
This came from a friend of mine from my church in Southern California. I got this folklore from a zoom call with her while she was quarantined back in Greece. I asked her to explain some traditional Greek cultural cornerstones she knows as she ate breakfast.
This dual meaning of both scaring away spirits through the breaking of plates and getting the party truly started fascinates me as it seems from much of my research that a lot of Greek folklore has dual meanings, tending towards one being fun and celebratory and the other based in the spiritual world. It makes me think about how religion is so important in the country as it is one of the most Christian countries in the world. Looking into that, it makes me ask how ghosts and spirits fit in with that.