Wedding Tradition – “Jumping the broom”


“A wedding tradition…specifically African Americans jump the broom at their weddings which is basically at the end of the sermon they jump over the broom…it’s literally a broom.”


One of my friends is African American and she was explaining this wedding tradition that many black communities partake in. She said it was a way of “giving thanks” as well as “honoring their ancestors.” She talked about how in the past slaves weren’t allowed to get married so this was an “act of defiance against the slave masters to jump the broom…to say we’re married after a pastor or sermon.” This tradition has continued to this day, even though they can legally get married, to show “thanks to the ancestors…that we see them.” She went on to say that it is an important aspect of her culture to honor their ancestors. She also said that many people in the outskirts of her family still practice this tradition as they believe it is “important to honor history and the ancestors…what they have gone through as a reminder that they are the reason we are here today.” 


It was interesting to hear of this tradition as it was quite new to me. The concept has a lot of history behind it and it’s mainly a tradition within the black community. That most likely contributes to the significance of the tradition as it connects people within that community. After doing a little research the origin of the tradition is still argued over today. Some believe it was started in West Africa to ward off evil spirits while some believe it originated in Wales. It is also believed that jumping the broom was a way for slaves back in the day to get married as they could not legally wed back then. Today the tradition has taken a slightly different meaning. Now the tradition is incorporated to recognize and pay homage to the legacy left behind by people’s ancestors in the black community. This shows how certain traditions can change their meaning depending on the period.