Age: 63 // 18
Occupation: Military Officer // student
Residence: NC // LA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/19/20 and 4/22/20
Primary Language: English
The sacred nature of weddings in the Antilles of the Caribbean is often communicated with indigenous customs that take place before, during, and after the ceremony. “Jumping the Broom” is a right of passage for the newlywed. After vows are said before the church and the bride and groom have been pronounced husband and wife, they take a big fat leap over a wooden broom. Alternatively, this is done using branches or sticks of wood held together.
D: “I had to go out one time because they didn’t have no broom. And I went outside and put together some branches and sticks for them to use.”
Some other customs include throwing a handful of rice on the bride and groom (250)
M: To bring luck you sprinkle grains like rice or beans.
The act of scattering grain or beans ultimately signifies wealth. It’s believed to ensure financial stability for the bride and groom. In addition, sugar is used with water to mop the floors of the church prior to the ceremony. Sugar is used because it ensures there will be no disturbances and everything will be sweet. Salt is sometimes sprinkled at the entrance of the church.
M: Salt is put at the front to keep away negativity. My mom would do that for other people’s weddings.
The informant expressed that these customs are what make them feel far more in tune with their roots. These customs stem from African heritage and are most common in Caribbean weddings because of the lingering history of slavery. Jumping the broom was done amongst slaves centuries ago when marriage, for them, was prohibited so doing this signified union between the couple. If we look at this from another angle, seeing two people jump over a broom is the act of them physically taking a big leap over a big obstacle. They fight through it… together. That is why these wedding customs are so important to the informant’s culture. Every obstacle—whether it be oppression, negativity, or money—can be overcome and Caribbean wedding customs are here to instill hope for those who are making this big change in their lives.