African American Wedding

There was a time when immigrants arriving in America went to extreme lengths to leave behind the influences of their homelands.  It was deemed much more fortuitous to abandon old ways and adapt the ways of the new country instead.

Unfortunately, a new country has very few, if any, deep rooted traditions that bind together the population as one people and this lack of tradition left many generations of America hanging in the balance between the old, familiar, and revered customs and the new frontier where everyone carved out their own fortunes and established their own traditions of short-lived and limited scope.

This lack of well-established custom led to a number of generations of Americans that had no deep-seated traditions to look forward to or find comfort in.  This lack of tradition is one reason frequently cited as the source of many of today’s societal ills.

Fortunately, more and more of today’s Americans are embracing the customs and traditions of their ancestral homes and there is probably no event that matches a wedding for reviving and celebrating long-established customs.

Jumping the broom is one African American wedding tradition that dates back for many centuries to the land of Ghana in West Africa.  This lively tradition was resurrected to a degree during the 1970s when Roots, the blockbuster movie based on the best-selling book by Alex Haley, brought it to light.

The cities and streets during the rule of the Asante of Ashanti were known to be noticeably clean due to the meticulous sweeping of the Asante women.  Diligent sweeping was believed to be a spiritual endeavor that swept away the wrongs of the past and kept evil spirits away.

During a traditional Asante wedding ceremony, the broom was passed over the heads of the betrothed couple to banish past wrongs and remove evil spirits, thereby ensuring a fresh start for the newlyweds.  The wedding ceremony often culminated in the jumping over the broom by the newly married couple.

Two issues are resolved when the African American wedding ceremony includes the jumping over the broom ceremony.  The first issue is the wife’s commitment to maintain a clean home for the happy couple.

The second issue resolved in jumping over the broom during an African American wedding is the determination of who would run the household.  The person who jumps highest (usually the man) wins the ever-so-serious responsibility of running a harmonious and prosperous household.

During the American slave era, there were no official ceremonies that acknowledged marriage between slaves.  The broom ceremony was employed to solidify the union of slave man and wife within their communities.  Once emancipation was achieved and freed slaves were free to marry in the traditional European style, with wedding rings symbolizing to all the union of man and wife, the broom ceremony was all but forgotten.

Newlyweds today frequently celebrate their African lineage with the revival of this lovely tradition during African American wedding ceremonies.

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