Wedding Traditions Explained: Jumping the Broom

This tradition of unity has the couple literally jumping over a broom that is laid on the floor. The jumping of the broom may come after the exchanging of the wedding rings, a short prayer, poem or even a song. It is said to represent the joining of families and the sweeping out of the old. Where did this custom come from? There are conflicting stories.

Some believe that jumping the broom started as a gypsy tradition in Wales. Others believe it is an analogy for eloping.

Some feel that it represents overcoming those who may disapprove of their union. Many others believe it had its roots in slavery, and was brought to America from Western or Central Africa.

American slaves could not enter into contracts, and as such, could not enter into a legal union of marriage. It is said they used jumping the broom as a visual commitment to each other.

Today, jumping the broom remains popular in many cultures. It is said by some that the person who jumps the broom the highest will end up “wearing the pants” in the family. Today, couples decorate their brooms, and they are kept as another reminder of the happy day.

Like most wedding traditions, the exact history behind jumping the broom may never be traced. It is the meaning a couple gives the tradition that is important. Unity and the joining of families sound like pretty good reasons to “jump the broom”.

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