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Jumping the Broom

Wedding Traditions: Jumping the Broom

This tradition was so important to this couple that they incorporated it into their wedding ceremony. My job as their wedding photographer was to capture this moment mid-jump and that is exactly what I did.

What exactly is it?

The tradition belongs to the black community in America and it occurs when the bride and groom jump over a broom at their wedding to seal their union as husband and wife. The broom is often decorated with ribbon and it can be passed down through generations or the couple may purchase their own, making it their first family heirloom. There is no specific person who places the broom on the ground however the couple is most likely to designate someone special to them to do the honors. On this particular wedding day, the couple chose the bride's brother who had also walked her down the aisle.

Where did this tradition come from?

The oldest record we have is around 1700 in Wales as a way for gypsies to be married without the church's involvement.

There is some dark history in America to the tradition related to the slave trade. In early America slave marriages were not often legally recognized, slave owners would sometimes force slaves to marry each other by having them jump over a broom. There is also debate that slaves were actually given more elaborate marriage ceremonies and that slave owners would have them jump the broom as a form of mockery. By the late 1800s, regardless of what the tradition had meant, slaves recognized the tradition as their own.

This tradition made a come back in the United States in 1976 with the novel Roots by Alex Haley which was followed by a miniseries in 1977.

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