With Black History month in full swing, we want to honor a wedding tradition among African Americans that has continued to be popular: jumping the broom. This tradition can either happen after the minister pronounces the couple husband and wife or at the wedding reception, but either way it is a tradition of matrimony that has a long root for African American people.
This “jumping the broom” tradition symbolizes sweeping out the old and bringing in the new for the couple. With its beginning roots in West Africa, the tradition stemmed from waving handmade brooms over the couples’ heads to rid them of evil spirits. Having the broom placed on the ground when the couples left the church was also seen from time to time. As the married couple jumped over the broom, whoever jumped the highest was designated the decision maker of the house hold, so put your jumping shoes on and let the battle of the hops begin.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, jumping the broom was the way some slave populations of the American South sought to legalize their marriage since it was illegal for them to wed in the courthouse. This tradition has lost some of its meaning over the years due to the association with slavery, but it is still practiced today in many African American weddings. Today “broom jumping” pays homage to the ancestors of the couple when vows were not traditionally sanctioned, symbolizes a new start and adds a traditional twist to their wedding day.
This tradition has held its popularity in the African American culture so much that there was a movie made about it. “Jumping the Broom” is a comedy film that came out in 2011. The title of the film and the basis of the movie originate from this long tradition of jumping the broom.
Black History month celebrates many holidays and traditions of African Americans. “Jumping the broom” is a wedding tradition that brings together two families and their traditions, past, present and future. A custom from long ago, this wedding-day act will be seen at ceremonies for years to come.