Saturday, July 04, 2009

Jumping the Broom

This is my jumping broom! I made it myself! It was actually one of the DIY projects on my list that I was really looking forward to doing. Although it only took me a few hours to make, it took a lot more time to consider.

When Mr. Glen Echo and I got engaged, we sat down and talked about what we love, like and hate about weddings. Much of this discussion was geared towards time honored wedding traditions that we thought were boring, unnecessary, or we just did not get...for example the unity candle. Every wedding that I have been to had a unity candle ceremony that just never went right...the candle would not light, the lighter would not work or it would just take forever for the couple to finally get it together. We love what the unity candle represents, which is the joining of the two families together, but the ceremony itself was something we decided to nix. Instead, we chose to create our own candle ceremony.

We did however agree that we would "jump the broom." Jumping the broom is an African American wedding tradition done during slavery to symbolize the joining to two people in marriage and express this commitment to the rest of the community. The jumping itself also represented the leap into freedom. There is no concrete evidence pin pointing where African American slaves got this tradition from, but it is speculated to have derived from the Ghanaian tradition of waiving brooms over the heads of newlywed couples. No matter what the direct origin of the tradition is, it is clear that it is a part of African culture that traveled with us here to America.

Many African Americans choose not to jump the broom during their wedding ceremonies. I completely understand the rationale not to do so. It is a slave tradition (or at least associated with slavery) and part of this country's past which should not be celebrated in any way. Mr. Glen Echo and I looked at it a bit differently. As mentioned, we are not doing a unity candle, but we are lighting memory candles at the beginning of the ceremony to symbolize the spiritual presence of our family members who have passed. The broom jumping continues along that path. We see this tradition as a way to give homage to our roots. The jumping over an imaginary "line" takes us from our past, over the present and into the future...together. The broom itself, symbolizes the home we will share and create together. The humble sticks, decorated with fancy lace and ribbon, is a metaphor for our humble beginnings combined with the possibility of prosperity we hope to have in our future.

Jumping the broom is not only an African American tradition, but many other cultures practice this act as well. Jumping the broom is combined with the handfasting ceremony used by the Celtics during their wedding ceremonies. The broom is used as a fertility symbol in the Celtic culture and many others. Some speculate that the Celtic tradition is how it was passed down to Afican American slaves, as indicated in this article.

There are definitely other "traditional" wedding practices Mr. Glen Echo and I have decided to change or re-vamp to reflect more of our personalities...but since this one is so simple and short, we decided to keep it just the way it it. It will look a little something like this

Such as the term, "tying the knot" has become synonomous to getting married, so has the phrase "jumping the broom." I totally cannot wait to the jump the broom with Mr. Glen Echo!

Are you Ladies adding any cultural tradtions to your ceremony? Are you change them in anyway or keeping them just as your ancestors did them? Any really cool and fun traditions you want to share?

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Blogger Miss Fairfax said...

I love this! and what a great way to think about the whole tradition. we have mostly distant european ancestry so we'll likely look to more recent history for inspiration to make our ceremony meaningful.

Monday, July 06, 2009 1:16:00 PM  

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