Did You Say ‘I Do’ to Jumping the Broom?

Jumping the broomI know I confessed my obsession with crime TV, but in between all of the forensics mystery and bloody-and-guts gore, I have a lighter, less nightmarish television pastime: wedding shows. It has nothing to do with the secret embers of hope still burning in my spirit that I will in fact get married someday (dramatic enough, ain’t I?); I love the whole planning aspect of weddings, the creativity you can invest into them, the little touches that make each one a unique experience — if you do it right.

I’ve got ideas for my own. You know, just in case. One element I’m adamant about incorporating into the ceremony is jumping the broom. If you saw the movie of the same name that came out earlier this year, you know that there are some black folks who turn the snootiness all the way up to 10 when it comes to opposition to that age-old tradition. So which side of the broom are you on? 

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Now, I realize that just because you’re black and you’re getting hitched, that does not immediately obligate you to jump the broom. It’s like breaking the glass in a Jewish ceremony, a nice cultural touch that, well, marries the past to the present. My whole feeling is this: had it not been for the men and women who jumped the broom before, there would be a lot fewer of us around today. I’m just thankful to be here. Just sayin’.  

There are all kinds of expert and armchair historians tracing the roots of the tradition back to here, there, and everywhere. Like a lot of African American-isms, its origins have gotten all tangled up in theory, handed down tales, and wrong but rampant speculation. I just know my ancestors did it to signify their love for and commitment to one another. And since I’m a sucker for history and heritage, just about anything that’s been passed down from generation to generation is nostalgic to me. And since that is in turn important to me and, on a slightly smaller scale, my would-be fiancé, it’ll get infused into our nuptials.

It seems like I’m in a growing minority, much like my plans to hyphenate my last name if and when I ever do say ‘I do.’ That saddens me just a bit. When age-old traditions fade out, it’s a slice of our us-ness that we can never get back, like lost languages or torn down sites. I know I’m not the only person hanging on. In my marathon-watching of My Fair Wedding or Whose Wedding Is It, Anyway?, I see couples jumping the broom from time to time.

I hope that, for those who choose not to do it, it’s not because it’s being dismissed as low class or unrefined when there’s nothing classier than honoring the community where you came from.

Did you or will you jump the broom at your wedding?



Image via wedloft

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