Friday, September 9, 2011

Jumping the Broom

       Jumping the Broom is a wedding custom from many different cultures. Historically, "broom-stick weddings" were first known in Wales, but it is unclear if the custom was started by the Welsh people or the Romani Gypsies living in Wales. A commonly held belief is that the practice originated in Africa. Brooms were spiritual symbols in west Africa. In Ghana, brooms were waived over the heads of a newlywed couple and their parents.  
 Two people jumping the broom at their ceremony
       Jumping over the broom symbolized various things depending on the culture. In the American south, the custom determined who ran the household. Whoever jumped highest over the broom was the decision maker of the household. The jumping of the broom does not constitute taking a "leap of faith" because the practice of jumping the broom pre-dates the phrase coined by Søren Aabye Kierkegaard by one hundred years, if not more. Among southern Africans, who were largely not a part of the Atlantic slave trade, it represented the wife's commitment or willingness to clean the courtyard of the new home she had joined. In England, jumping over the broom (or sometimes walking over a broom), became nominally synonymous (i.e. "Married over the besom", "living over the brush") with irregular or non-church unions  while in America the phrase could be used as a slang expression to describe the act of getting married legally, rather than as one specifying an informal union not recognised by church or state.
 The Broom my partner and I are using for our handfasting (Before decoration)
       Neo-pagans have borrowed this simple practice from the African American community, and have incorporated it into their handfastings. Many pagans, as well as non-pagans, now associate "jumping the broom" with pagan handfastings. For pagans not of African American decent, including a broom in the ceremony is appropriate. The broom represents a threshold. The handfasted couple, although still individuals, begin a new life together. Jumping over the broom represents crossing this threshold into new territory, a life vitally connected to another. The leap that the couple takes over the broom is also symbolic. Starting a new life with another person does require a "leap of faith". But by taking the leap, the individuals make a gesture of dedication to working together through the tough times ahead. Brooms are also symbols of the hearth, the center of the new family being created.
 The broom for our Handfasting after I decorated it with ribbons in our colors.
       The broom as it is used today in marriage or handfasting ceremonies represents the threshold of the home, and jumping the broom is symbolic of entering a new home together. Even if couples are already sharing a home or are currently married and are renewing their vows, jumping the broom can help symbolize entering a new stage of their relationship, and the leaving behind of old thoughts, behaviors and patterns between the two.
       Many witches, wiccans and pagans are already familiar with the usage of the broom as a symbolic way of sweeping out old energies and clearing away negativity. This is also a great usage of it in a wedding, and helps the couple to come together with a "clean slate".
 Red, Purple, Silver, and Black are our colors!
       Personally I think of Jumping the broom in the pagan sense. I think of it as a symbol of my partner and I leaving behind our old lives and starting a new one together where we are dedicated to working together. I also intend to use the broom to sweep the negative energy from the ceremony site, and will continue to use the broom like that in my future workings.

 Brightest Blessings to you!


  1. I love it!!!! It's. So. PRETTY!!! Can't wait to jump it with you ;)

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! <3!!!!! The broom came out so pretty; you're so creative! ^_^ And I like getting to read about this stuff; very informative!

  3. Thank you both! I am very happy with how the broom came out, and I love learning about this stuff then writing it out for others to read and learn about as well.
    And Kellie, I can't wait to Jump the Broom with you too!