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The Wedding Broom Jumping Ceremony: History, Ideas and Modern Meanings

More and more couples are reaching back towards their roots and using a wedding broom as part of their ceremony. Most everyone has heard of "jumping the broom" but few people know the origins and meanings of this custom. Considering using it in your ceremony? You might want to include a wedding broom explanation in your program and invitations. Here is the history, meanings, how to do it and a few "do it yourself" ideas for a jumping ritual.

Broom jumping is most famous in the United States as an African American wedding custom. During the antebellum period in the United States, slave marriages were not recognized as legal or binding. The broom jumping ritual was a symbolic act within slave communities for marriage. Many African American couples are taking back this custom and incorporating it as part of their modern ceremony. Broom jumping was not done only by slaves however, poor whites in the South and in New England, as well as Gypsies also used this marriage ritual. The jumping of the broom is of Welsh and Celtic origin. In the Celtic ritual, it is a symbol of fertility. Several couples interested in history or pagan ritual also are now adopting this custom in their weddings.

Modern Meanings:
Done as an act of remembrance and to honor the ancestors of the past. Compared to the Jewish wedding ritual of crushing a glass for the destruction of the temple. A broom itself represents cleanliness, the hearth and family. It can also represent fertility. The jumping of the broom is a leap of faith into marriage. In some parts of Africa, ceremonial brooms are used to sweep away evil.

The Actual Ceremony:
The broom jumping typically takes place after the rest of the wedding ceremony, before the bride and groom exit down the aisle. Alternatively, some choose to do it during the reception. A designated broom person (a very honored job, usually a woman) takes the broom and places it on the floor in front of you. Choose someone to explain to the guests what it stands for and why you are doing it. You may ask the guests to count out loud or not and then you hold hands and jump over it! This ritual varies from couple to couple, it is up to you to find a way to make it most meaningful.

Do It Yourself Wedding Broom Ideas:
Any broom can be used for the ceremony, as long as it is actually a broom. Some couples purchase a beautifully pre-decorated broom and some couples prefer a plain natural bristle broom. A plain broom can be decorated with paint, beads, sequins, flowers and more. A popular custom is to pass out colorful ribbons to guests and then have each guest tie their ribbon on the wedding broom before it is jumped as a symbol of their wish for the couple. You can even pass out markers with the ribbon and have guests actually write their blessing on the ribbon if you like. The broom can be passed around during the ceremony and then collected by a designated person. An easier method is to have guests decorate the broom between the ceremony and the reception and then jump the broom at the reception.

Related Articles:
More Wedding Broom Ideas - Here are some program wording examples to explain your broom jumping ceremony and even an invitation example that mentions broom jumping!

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