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5 facts behind ‘jumping the broom’, the sacred marriage custom that still thrives in America

September 02, 2018 at 10:00 am | Culture

Mildred Europa Taylor

Mildred Europa Taylor | Staff Writer

September 02, 2018 at 10:00 am | Culture

An illustration of the ceremony — How Africa

How African is it?

Some historical accounts claim that the tradition of jumping the broom has its origins in the West African Country of Ghana, particularly, the areas surrounded by the Asante ethnic group.

The broom symbolized the sweeping away of past wrongdoings and was said to have the spiritual power of removing evil spirits.

Thus, brooms were waved over the heads of a couple during a marriage ceremony to ward off evil spirits. The couple must then jump over the broom at the end of the ceremony to signal a new beginning for them.

Though African cultures rarely practice this tradition recently, most European cultures are doing so, heightening the argument that jumping the broom may have originated in Europe and imposed on enslaved Africans.

A paper by Alan Dundes (1996) states that the custom originated among Romani people in England and Wales, while other writers have argued that the Asantes discarded the practice due to their colonization by the British, whose culture they adopted.

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