Wedding Traditions: Jumping the Broom

The bride and groom exchange rings. They light a unity candle. The groom lifts the brides veil. One family sits on one side, the other family on the opposite. Afterwards there are speeches from the maid of honor, the best man, and the father of the bride. Toasts are1237276_618120848210900_939365948_o given, the brides father shares a dance with her and the grooms mother shares a dance with him. All of these are common practices that our culture not only enjoys, but expects. Traditions are there to bring people together with familiar actions that are emotional, symbolic, but most of all a reminder.

One tradition that seems, up until recently, fallen out of American culture is the jumping of the broom. What is it? What is significant about jumping over a broom?

WHAT IS JUMPING THE BROOM?

‘Jumping the broom’ is the literally the act of the bride and groom sweeping the floor in front of them and then, after laying the  broom on the ground, they leap over it. The broom could be decorated with the party’s colored streamers/bows and flowers or be very basic.  The broom is then kept by the couple like one would hold onto name cards or candle arrangements. That way, as traditions go, it can be passed down to their children for when they get married.

WHERE DID THIS TRADITION COME FROM?

Originally the broom jump was conceived in Europe as a symbol of making marriage ceremonies finalized or legitimized. The expression is that if the couple weren’t in a society or condition to get an official marriage license, they would be ‘jumping the broom’.

Not neccesarily associated with this European beginning, it was highly adapted by African culture during slavery days. Since at the time, African Americans could not marry and had no legal standings for licenses; the broom jump was meant to be the affirmation they could not receive.

IF YOU MAKE THIS TRADITION PART OF YOUR SERVICE

  • You are showing your promises for a new life by sweeping the old one away
  • The broom can be a new heirloom for generations to come
  • For those coming from African American and Romanian heritage, it is a remembrance of the past
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A ‘clean sweep’ to a new life