From The Knot’s “Ceremony: 7 Afrocentric Traditions”
"Jumping the broom is a phrase and custom relating to wedding ceremonies in different cultural traditions, found in "many diverse cultures, those of Africa − Europe including Scotland, Hungary and Gypsy culture", all of which "include brooms at wedding rituals." It has been particularly associated with the Romani gypsy people of the United Kingdom, especially those in Wales. It has been suggested that there is "evidence showing the wedding custom was practiced by gypsies in England, Scotland" as well as by African Americans and other groups...
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Slave-owners were faced with a dilemma regarding committed relationships between slaves. While some family stability might be desirable as helping to keep slaves tractable and pacified, anything approaching a legal marriage was not. Marriage gave a couple rights over each other which conflicted with the slave-owners’ claims. Most marriages between enslaved blacks were not legally recognized during American slavery, as in law marriage was held to be a civil contract, and civil contracts required the consent of free persons. In the absence of any legal recognition, the slave community developed its own methods of distinguishing between committed and casual unions. The ceremonial jumping of the broom served as an open declaration of settling down in a marriage relationship. Jumping the broom was always done before witnesses as a public ceremonial announcement that a couple chose to become as close to married as was then allowed...
Jumping the broom also fell out of practice due to the stigma it carried, and in some cases still carries, among black Americans wishing to forget the horrors of slavery. The practice did survive in some communities, however, and made a resurgence after the publication of Alex Haley's Roots."
I feel that when we choose to jump the broom now in the 21st Century, we are remembering those that couldn't legally choose to pick whom they wanted to marry. We are paying tribute to those that did not and could not have these lavish $27,000 weddings (the average cost of a wedding these days) and could not declare openly their love for one another. We have a choice on whether or not we want to jump the broom and we can now do it openly, proudly and expressively.
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Whether we as a people embrace, reject, or continue in ambivalence toward our history, when it is time to get married, we will be faced with making this decision, as someone will inevitably ask "Will you jump the broom?" once it is announced that we are getting married.
What will you do?