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African American Wedding Customs

Jumping the Broom 

Dating back to slave days, jumping over the broom together has been part of weddings for Black couples who want to honor that tradition.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, after the kiss and the presentation of the couple to their guests, one of the attendants produces a broom (which has been previously hidden somewhere near the location of the ceremony) or a special person brings the broom from the audience and places it in the path of the wedding couple.
They then jump over the broom on their way out.
An alternative would be for the couple to jump over the broom just prior to the pronouncement that they are husband and wife. The kiss would follow; then the recessional.
The broom used in the wedding ceremony has often been a beautifully handmade broom that the couple keeps as a wedding memento.
Submitted by: Dave Sugarbaker http://www.sugarbaker.com

Jumping the broom is a popular African-American wedding tradition that symbolizes the sweeping away of the old and the welcoming of the new.
African-American weddings often include vivid colors, elaborate costumes and meaningful rituals. And best of all, brides are considered the cultural universe in Africa since they represent the link between ancestors and unborn generations. A tradition that all cultures should embrace!

The practice of having couples "jump the broom" during wedding ceremonies is both an African American custom as well as a neo-pagan custom.

In contrast to many West African traditions recognized and included in African American wedding ceremonies, the practice of "jumping the broom" is a wholly American addition that developed out of the institution of African slavery in the United States. Shortly after the introduction of slavery to the country, the right to legal marriage was taken away from the enslaved. Slaveholders considered the Africans property, and as property, they had no rights in the eyes of the law. The owners also
feared that legal marriage and family bonds had the potential to lead to organization and revolt. Marriage rituals were important events to the Africans who came from numerous richly ceremonial cultures. When faced with the loss of the right to marry, many, ingrained with the significance of the marriage since childhood, created new rituals with what was on hand. Taking vows in the presence of a witness and then leaping over the handle of a broom became the common practice to create
a recognized union. Incorporating "jumping the broom" into modern weddings is just one way African Americans today celebrate their cultural heritage.

Neo-pagans have borrowed this simple practice from the African American community, and have incorporated it into their handfastings. Many pagans, as well as non-pagans, now associate "jumping the broom" with pagan handfastings. For pagans not of African American decent, including a broom in the ceremony is appropriate. The broom represents a threshold.
The handfasted couple, although still individuals, begin a new life together.  Jumping over the broom represents crossing this threshold into new territory,  a life vitally connected to another's. The leap that the couple takes over the broom is also symbolic. Starting a new life with another person does require  a "leap of faith". But by taking the leap, the individuals make a gesture of dedication to working together through the tough times ahead. Brooms are also symbols of the hearth, the center of the new family being created. The broom also holds other significance specific to Neo-pagan and Wiccan beliefs

Jumping the Broom History

An African American Tradition This is a ceremony dating back to the 1600s and derived from Africa. Dating back to slave days, jumping the broom together has been part of weddings for couples who want to honor that tradition. Some couples choose to incorporate it into traditional and non-traditional ceremonies.
The "Jumping the Broom" is a ceremony in which the bride and groom, either at the ceremony or at the reception, signify their entrance into a new life and their creation of a new family by symbolically "sweeping away" their former single lives, former problems and concerns, and jumping over the broom to enter upon a new adventure as wife and husband.

Jumping the broom or in some cases jumping over an imaginary line is an African ritual, or tradition still being practiced in some parts of West Africa. Jumping the broom is not associated with slavery. Enslaved Africans, as an affirmation of their cultural heritage practiced it during slavery in North America.

This "leap" into a new life (marriage as wife and husband is performed in the presence of families and friends. You can be as creative as you want when planning for this special ceremony.

The broom has both symbolic and spiritual importance in the African culture. The ritual itself was created by our ancestors during slavery. Because slaves could not legally marry, they created their own rituals to honor their unions. Some say broom jumping comes from an African tribal marriage ritual of placing sticks on the ground representing the couple's new home.

The straws of the broom represent family; the handle represents the Almighty; the ribbon represents the tie that binds the couple together.

A fully decorated broom can be purchased at ethnic stores, online, or a regular household broom will suffice. If you decide to use your own broom and decorate it yourself, be sure it coordinates with your wedding colors. Using your own broom can also be a great bonding activity for the bridesmaids, perhaps the night, or week before the wedding.

Another idea is to have a basket full of colorful ribbon pieces at the wedding or reception and allow guests to tie ribbons around the broom before the ceremony begins. This allows the audience to participate, which is in keeping with the African tradition of community involvement.

Chose a time before the ceremony when each guest can write their name or initials on a ribbon and tie their ribbon on the wedding broom. When you jump the broom you'll be jumping with the good wishes and prayers of all of your guest. It also allows you to have a wonderful keepsake after your special day, remembering those that were there to witness it.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, after the kiss and presentation of the couple to their guests, one of the attendants produces the broom or a special person from the audience brings the broom and places it in the path of the wedding couple. They then jump over the broom on their way to the recessional.

The broom used in the wedding ceremony has often been a beautifully hand made broom containing objects meaningful to the couple that they then keep as a momento of their wedding day and to grace the newlyweds hearth or hallway.

Couples celebrate this rich cultural heritage, irrespective of race, religion, and nationality. The most important thing is it's significance;

Honoring and respect of your ancestors, their legacy, and your rich African and African American heritage. Coming together of both families, and commitment to each other as wife and husband. It represents strength, love, togetherness, loyalty, and respect which is essential for a successful marriage.This ceremony can also be performed at an anniversary or a renewing of vows ceremony.

Jumping the Broom History from Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com)


Page Created November 25, 2008
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