Jumping the Broom: A Bride’s Secret Fantasy or Tradition?

Newlywed Couple Jumping The Broom | White House Wedding Photography

Is jumping the broom a bride’s secret fantasy or tradition? Find out in this post. I’ve always been curious about this wedding practice. I wanted to know what it was? What does it mean, and what is the tradition behind it?

My limited understanding of the practice goes back to the era of slavery. And as a black wedding photographer, I couldn’t think of a better time to write about jumping the broom than Black History Month. So, let’s do this!

What Does Jumping the Broom Mean?

I first understand jumping the broom to mean slave marriages. During the era of slavery, slaves’ unions were illegal and were done in secrecy to avoid punishments.

Back then, the practice was the only symbol of slaves’ marriage. Today some African American brides will include tradition in their wedding ceremonies to commemorate their ancestors.

Nevertheless, jumping the broom meaning is broader than slaves’ sign of marriage! According to some authors, under the rule of Asante of Ashanti Confederacy, in Ghana, jumping the broom symbolizes the wife’s commitment to cleaning the courtyard of the new home she had joined.

It is also an indication of a wife’s commitment to the house. Furthermore, jumping the broom in the Asante society determine who will be in charge of the household. Whoever jumps the highest over the broom becomes the family decision-maker.

Jumping the broom has some different meanings in other cultures. For example, in Northern Whales, a married couple would jump backward over the broom to begin a divorce. Still, a group of British gypsies would require the woman to jump over the broom into her husband’s arms.

Tradition & Origins

Jumping the broom tradition is widely believed to be an African American wedding tradition with origins in the West African Country of Ghana. As the story goes, British and Dutch traders would consistently speak of how Ghanaians meticulously kept their roads clean with locally made brooms.

In the Ghanaian culture, the people also used locally made brooms to sweep the palaces and homes’ courtyards. These locally made brooms had mystical values and were believed to sweep away past wrongs and remove evil spirits.

The Origins of Jumping The Broom

Here is the thing! Until researching this post, I never thought for a minute that jumping the broom wedding ceremony tradition existed outside of the African American culture.

There seems to be some controversy as to the origin of the practice. Some writers claim that no evidence of jumping the broom wedding tradition existed in Ghana.

According to some scholars, the ritual was first recorded as a wedding tradition in the eighteen century. They argued that it was likely formed among isolated villages throughout Grate Britain.

Jumping the broom wedding tradition was used in various forms by the Celts, gypsies, and rural Anglo Saxons.

Secret Fantasy or Tradition?

In the end, we can all agree that jumping the broom is not an imaginary or make-believe thing. The origin and format of the practice are irrelevant today.

It is essential to understand that our ancestors who were kidnapped and brought to the West to work under inhumane conditions were not allowed the rights to legal and free marriages.

Because slaves were prohibited from marrying, they devise a way to mark their unions in their fellow slaves’ eyes. Who cares where tradition originates or how other cultures may have interpreted it?

It is an honor and a privilege to photograph African American couples who include this historical practice of jumping the broom in their wedding ceremonies.

Have questions? Let’s connect here.

If you like this post, you may also be interested in these other posts:

8 Old School Wedding Traditions You Can Skip

3 Types of Marriages You Should Know For Planning Your Wedding!

Valentine’s Day – What Does Love Have to Do With It?

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