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What is the tradition of jumping the broomstick?

Marriage is a special and sacred bond between two individuals. Throughout history, marriage has been celebrated in many different ways, with each culture and tradition having its unique customs. One such tradition is jumping the broomstick. The broomstick tradition is one that has been passed down through the generations of African American communities, particularly those descended from enslaved Africans.


The tradition of jumping the broomstick dates back to the days of slavery in America. During that time, many enslaved people were not allowed to legally marry. As a result, they created their own rituals to celebrate their unions. One such ritual was the act of jumping the broom.

Jumping the broom involved the couple standing facing each other, holding hands, with a broomstick laid on the ground in front of them. The couple then jumped over the broomstick together. The act symbolized a new beginning and a sweeping away of the past. It also signified the joining of two families or offered a respectful nod to family ancestors.

After slavery ended, many African Americans continued to practice the tradition, especially those in the South. Jumping the broom was seen as a way of validating their marriage in lieu of having an officiant. It is also worth noting that the broom used is not just any broomstick, but a decorated one that is made specially for the occasion.

The meaning behind the tradition

Jumping the broomstick has a variety of meanings that have been passed down through the generations. These meanings include:

1. Honoring ancestors: The tradition of jumping the broomstick is a way of paying tribute to the African ancestors who were forcibly brought to America and suffered great injustices. By jumping the broomstick, couples are acknowledging and honoring their ancestors, and the sacrifices they made.

2. Symbolizes a new beginning: Jumping the broomstick symbolizes a new start, a new beginning, a fresh and clean slate. When two people jump over the broomstick, they are essentially “sweeping away” any negative energy from their past and starting anew.

3. Joining of two families: Jumping the broomstick is also a way of bringing two families together. When a couple jumps over the broomstick, they are not just uniting themselves, but they are also uniting their families. It shows that the families are coming together to celebrate and support the couple’s union.

4. Spiritual significance: For some, jumping the broomstick has spiritual significance. It is believed to call upon the spirits of the ancestors to bless and protect the couple’s union.

The tradition in modern times

Today, jumping the broomstick is mainly practiced within the African American community. However, it has also gained popularity among other cultures and communities. Some couples incorporate the tradition into their wedding ceremony as a nod to their ancestry or as a way of adding a unique touch to their special day.

There are also those who have taken the tradition a step further and created businesses around it. For example, some people now create and sell customized brooms specifically for jumping the broomstick. Others offer services such as wedding planning and officiating, with a specialization in incorporating the broomstick tradition into the ceremony.


The tradition of jumping the broomstick may have originated during a difficult time in history, but it has endured for generations. This custom has evolved and taken on different meanings, but at its core, it remains a celebration of love, family, and heritage. Whether it’s a small gesture or a significant part of a wedding ceremony, jumping the broomstick continues to be a meaningful tradition for many individuals and communities.


What does jumping the broom symbolize?

Jumping the broom is a wedding tradition that dates back to the time of slavery in the American South, where African American enslaved people were not allowed to legally marry. Without the ability to legally marry, enslaved couples would use the broom-jumping ceremony as a way to recognize and celebrate their union. The broom, made of natural materials and often decorated with flowers or ribbons, was a symbol of the couple’s new home and new beginning.

The ceremony involves the couple standing facing each other while holding hands, and then jumping over a broomstick that has been placed on the ground in front of them. The act of jumping over the broom is seen as a symbol of sweeping away the old and welcoming in the new. In some ceremonies, the broom is then laid across the threshold of the couple’s new home to symbolize their entrance into their new life together.

While the tradition has its roots in the African American community, today many couples of different races and backgrounds incorporate a broom-jumping ceremony into their weddings as a way to pay homage to and honor the historical significance of the tradition. This act serves as a reminder of the struggles of those who came before them and their resilience to overcome obstacles, while also celebrating the couple’s love and commitment.

Jumping the broom symbolizes the union, new beginnings, sweeping away the old, and paying homage to the struggles and resilience of those before us. It is a meaningful and powerful tradition that has been carried on for generations and continues to be a cherished part of many wedding ceremonies today.

Is jumping the broom a black tradition?

Jumping the broom is a wedding tradition widely believed to be an African tradition. This belief stems from the practice’s inclusion in Alex Haley’s Roots, a popular novel-turned-miniseries that traced the history of the author’s ancestry. In the story, the practice could supposedly be traced back to the enslaved Africans who were brought to America and subjected to inhumane treatment on plantations. However, recent scholarship has revealed that the tradition is not specifically African or black. In fact, the custom comes from parts of Europe and has been a part of many Western European wedding ceremonies.

The ritual of jumping the broom is said to have originated in Wales, where it was common practice among the pagans who lived there. The broom was considered a symbol of the home, and the act of jumping over it was believed to have magical properties that ensured the couple’s domestic bliss and fertility. As Christianity replaced paganism, the ritual lost its magical significance but remained a part of the culture.

As the British Empire expanded, the tradition of jumping the broom was carried with it to the far corners of the world, including to the colonies in the Caribbean and the Americas. Enslaved Africans brought to America by the transatlantic slave trade adopted the practice and made it their own, incorporating it into their marriage ceremonies. However, the practice was not exclusive to their culture, nor was it a unique element of black wedding ceremonies.

Jumping the broom is not a specifically black tradition, nor is it an African tradition. The history of this practice extends back to ancient times in Europe and has been a part of many different cultures, including those of enslaved Africans. While it has become more commonly associated with black weddings in the United States, its origins are more universal and less tied to any one ethnicity.

When did pagans start jumping the broom?

Jumping the broom is a cultural practice that has been observed in various communities for centuries. The question of when pagans started jumping the broom is a complex one, as the origins of the practice are not entirely clear. However, there are some indications that jumping the broom may have been incorporated into pagan rituals at some point in history.

The earliest known reference to jumping the broom comes from the early 18th century, when it was observed in Wales and England as a way of acknowledging a common-law marriage. It was also used by African slaves in the United States as a way of symbolizing their union when they were not allowed to marry legally. However, the actual origins of the practice are likely much older.

One theory is that jumping the broom may have originated with the Romani, who have been in Wales since at least the 16th century. The Romani are known for their elaborate wedding traditions, which often involve dancing, music, and other forms of celebration. It is possible that jumping the broom was incorporated into these traditions as a way of symbolizing the couple’s union.

Another theory is that jumping the broom may have been a common pagan ritual in ancient times. Some believe that the practice was used in pagan handfasting ceremonies, which were essentially trial marriages that lasted for a year and a day. It is possible that jumping the broom was used as a way of symbolizing the couple’s commitment to each other during this trial period.

Regardless of its origins, jumping the broom has become an important symbolic act in many pagan communities today. It is often used in handfasting ceremonies as a way of symbolizing the couple’s commitment to each other, and it is also sometimes used in other rituals as a way of marking a new beginning or a significant transition in life.

While the exact origins of jumping the broom in pagan communities are not entirely clear, it is clear that the practice has been embraced by many pagan traditions as a way of symbolizing love, commitment, and new beginnings. Whether it originated with the Romani, as a common-law marriage tradition in Wales, or as a pagan handfasting ritual, jumping the broom continues to be an important part of pagan culture today.