Jumping the broom is a cultural practice that can be roughly traced back to the 16th century if not even farther in history. Its origin or time of origin is uncertain. There are also different beliefs about how it started.
Though it is true that the slaves practised jumping the broom ,this custom didn’t emanate from slavery as is popularly claimed and also supported by the Hollywood film ‘Jumping the Broom’. The slaves only practised it in honour of their tradition and also because legal marriage was inaccessible to them. Some have claimed that this custom started in Wales where couples jump over a flowering broom (shrub), others attribute it to the Romani gypsies and some are adamant it started in West Africa from the Ashanti group of Ghana who waved broom over the head of newly-wed couples to ward off evil spirits.
While who started it or where cannot be ascertained, the custom is known to have been practised in Africa, Wales, Scotland, amongst Romani gypsies, in England, America and some aboriginal or shamanistic cultures. The symbolism attached to this practice varies according to cultures though similar. To some it means crossing from the old life of being single to married, to others it signifies the bride’s promise to clean the house, a reminder for the couple to work in unity, to represent the couple’s new home and to decided who makes the decision, a honour bestowed on the first to touch the floor after jumping and in some tradition, the highest jumper (usually men). The straw of the broom also symbolizes family and the bind, the hand of God holding both families and the couple together.
This culture has seen a decline because of its popular association to slavery most modern couple avoid this so as to forget the horrors of slave trade but it is still practised by many as a form of cultural heritage. The decorated broom is normally placed in front of the church or reception so the groom can jump over it on their way out after the ceremony or in front of the their new home.