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