Wedding Traditions: Jumping the Broom
The Wedding Guru explains the African-American wedding tradition of “jumping the broom”
There are so many lovely traditions in a variety of religions and cultures, that is seems a shame not to incorporate several into the ceremony and reception. Some couples look back into their ethnic, cultural, and religious roots when planning their weddings. Interestingly, some even implement rituals from backgrounds that are not their own because they like the concepts behind the traditions. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this! Be creative; it’s all right to be “cross-cultural” if it feels right to you.
Dear Wedding Guru: “Several of my married friends included the tradition of ‘jumping the broom’ at their ceremonies. Can you please explain it?”
(Our answer on next page)
The Wedding Guru says: During the period of slavery in this country, African-American couples were not allowed to legally marry. As a public statement of their love and commitment, with drums beating in the background, a man and woman jumped over a broom “into matrimony.” The broom has long held significant meaning for many Africans because it symbolizes the start of homemaking for the newlywed couple. Because of this, some African-American couples choose to include this symbolic rite in their wedding ceremony.
Another tradition with African roots is to wear cowrie shells. Believed to encourage fertility, they’re worn in bridal necklaces and used as decorative accents to trim gowns, jackets, and headpieces. The shells are found off the coast of West Africa and were once used as money. Today, they’re a symbol of beauty, power, and purity.
For more information about African-American customs, check out www.hudsonvalleyweddings.com.