Tradition – African-American

Newlyweds jump over a broom at the end of the wedding ceremony.

At my informant’s wedding in 2004, she and her husband jumped over a broom after they were pronounced man and wife and before they walked back down the aisle.  When I asked my informant about this tradition, she said it was an African-American tradition.  She said it began during the times of slavery when slaves could not legally marry; they used jumping over the broom to signify the beginning of the unofficial marriage.  The broom my informant and her husband jumped over was a regular plain broom, but more festive, decorated brooms can also be used in this tradition.

My informant says that this tradition is primarily used by African-Americans who take pride in their historic roots.  She says both her mother and grandmother jumped over a broom at their weddings.

Annotation: Dundes, Alan. “’Jumping the Broom’: On the Origin and Meaning of an African Wedding Custom.” The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 109, No. 433. (Summer, 1996), pp. 324-329.

Dundes talks about popularity of “broom-jumping” among African-Americans, the variants of the “broom jumping” ceremony, and also the history of the tradition.  Dundes says there is no evidence that the “broom jumping” tradition can be traced back to Africa, but it can be traced back to the Gypsies of England and Scotland.