Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Article: Jumping the broom

Jumping the broom

Origins and Historical Context

  • Jumping the broom originated in West Africa and was brought to the United States through the Atlantic slave trade.
  • Enslaved people used jumping the broom to signify their commitment to a marriage relationship.
  • Legal marriage between enslaved people was not recognized during slavery.
  • The custom allowed enslaved couples to publicly declare their commitment to each other.

Enslaved Community Practices

  • Jumping the broom was a public and ceremonial announcement of a couple's commitment to each other.
  • Slave narratives from Georgia mention the practice of jumping the broom to get married.
  • The custom was not legally recognized after emancipation, but some African American communities continued the practice.
  • The phrase "jumping the broom" became synonymous with getting married in African American culture.

Revival and Popular Culture

  • The custom of jumping the broom was revived among African Americans after the publication of Alex Haley's "Roots."
  • The 1992 book "Broom Jumping: A Celebration of Love" describes the African American custom during the early 1990s.
  • The custom is referenced in various TV shows and films, including "Roots" and "The Birth of a Nation."

Cultural Exchange and Influences

  • Historian Tyler D. Parry suggests that the custom of jumping the broom in the United States has more similarities to the British Isles than to Ghanaian customs.
  • Poor white Southerners in the US South had cultural exchange with enslaved African Americans.
  • The custom of jumping the broom in Wales involved jumping over a branch of flowering broom or a besom made of broom.
  • The association of the broom with witches led to its adoption by some Wiccans.
  • The custom reflects cultural influences and exchanges between different communities.

Legal Recognition and Challenges

  • Enslaved people were not legally recognized as married, but jumping the broom held cultural and emotional significance.
  • After emancipation, many formerly enslaved couples sought legal recognition of their marriages.
  • The legal recognition of broom-jumping marriages varied across different states and time periods.
  • The tradition raised questions about the rights and legal protections afforded to married couples, particularly in relation to slavery.

Jumping the broom Data Sources

Reference URL
Knowledge Graph

Read more

Jewish wedding

Wedding Ceremony The chuppah is a central element of the Jewish wedding ceremony. The badeken is the veiling ceremony where the groom covers the bride's face. The procession is the order in which t...

Read more


Functions and Significance of Jewellery Jewellery can serve functional purposes, such as fixing clothing or hair in place. It can act as a marker of social and personal status, like a wedding ring....

Read more