Jumping the Broom Ceremony & African Wedding Traditions

Having a jumping the broom ceremony is one of the adopted African wedding traditions practiced among many African-Americans in their weddings today.

The jumping the broom ceremony is a wedding tradition making a popular comeback in the modern era. Full of symbolism, this ceremony has its roots in some West African tribal traditions. Interestingly, other tribal-based cultures outside of Africa have similar traditions, such as the early Celts and Druids. It has a special role in African wedding traditions, with additional symbolic meaning in the modern African-American wedding ceremony.

Traditionally, weddings in Africa have been about the coming together of two families. It was this way centuries ago during tribe-strong eras and that focus remained well into the modern era. When a couple jumped the broom together, traditionally the act was a symbol of the two leaping forward into their new adult life and household. In addition to the traditional wedding clothing and food which were a part of the wedding, so were rituals and customs that demonstrated respect for the elder members of the family. Among those customs was the seating and feeding order of the guests.

Western influence seeps across the world, with even Africa not being immune from its effects. This is seen in weddings, too. Weddings in urban parts of Africa have become very Westernized, featuring European-style clothing, food, and forms, such as the after-ceremony reception. When African-American couples today choose to include the jumping the broom ceremony, they are making a conscious choice to acknowledge their roots and African wedding traditions and also to demonstrate respect to their ancestors. That adds an additional layer of symbolism to this tradition, one that can be pleasing to older family members.

Jumping the Broom from Mathew Crawford on Vimeo.

According to tradition, after the ceremonial words are exchanged and just before the bride and groom are publicly proclaimed man and wife, they join hands and jump over the broom together see the video above. In earlier eras, the broom was new, albeit plain. It was a functional item, symbolizing care of the home the couple would create together. Today however, the broom used in a wedding ceremony may be more decorative than functional, featuring ribbons and other African wedding-themed decorations, such as Kente cloth.

Western weddings tend towards being bride-centric – her special day. African traditions have always been more inclusive, also honoring the newly united family and its role in helping the young bride and groom succeed in their new life together. Choosing to honor traditional African focus in a wedding with the jumping the broom ceremony is a thoughtful and considerate act, one that demonstrates a sense of maturity truly symbolic of being ready to wed. It is a finishing touch that will be remembered.

Speaking of finishing touches, consider giving Jumping-The-Broom-themed wedding favors, such as the mug below, to your wedding guests.

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