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Jumping the broom is a phrase and custom relating to a wedding ceremony in which the couple jumps over a broom. It is most widespread among African Americans and Black Canadians, popularized during the 1970s by the novel and miniseries Roots, and originated in mid-19th-century antebellum slavery in the United States.

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History & Meaning

What is the meaning of jumping the broom?

“The act symbolizes a new beginning and a sweeping away of the past, and can also signify the joining of two families or offer a respectful nod to family ancestors." In fact, even after slavery ended, some descendents still chose to jump the broom to validate their marriage in lieu of having an officiant.

Some argue that it originated in West Africa, as brooms were used as a way to ward off evil spirits. Specifically, family members or members of the community would wave a broom over the couple's head, and then place it on the ground for the couple to jump over it.

Is jumping the broom a thing?

In some African-American and Black-Canadian communities, couples end their wedding ceremony by jumping over a broomstick together or separately. The practice is documented as a marriage ceremony for enslaved people in the Southern United States during the 1840s and 1850s, who were often not permitted to marry legally.

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