1. Broom jumping has become one of the most popular African traditions at weddings-traditional and African-centered. According to Harriet Cole in her book, "Jumping the Broom." The ritual itself was created by our ancestors during slavery. Because slaves could not legally marry, they created their own rituals to honor their unions. Some say broom jumping comes from an African tribal marriage ritual of placing sticks on the ground representing the couple's new home. 2.

The jumping of the broom is a symbol of sweeping away of the old and welcoming the new, or a symbol of a new beginning. Today the ceremony can be performed at the wedding after the minister pronounces the couple man and wife or at the reception just after the bridal party enters the reception area. 3. The broom jumping ceremony is conducted by an experienced African cultural leader and can last up to 25 minutes. The ceremony includes the Bride, Groom, their families and close friends. It gives all in attendance, including guests, an opportunity to pledge their support to the union.

A highlight of the ceremony is the recognition of the spiritual presence of ancestors, and the pouring of libations in their memory. The straws of the broom represent the family and the handle represents the almighty. 4. 5.

A fully decorated broom can be purchased at ethnic stores or a regular household broom will suffice. Broom sizes will vary, but it doesn't matter which you choose. If you decide to use your own broom and decorate it yourself, be sure it coordinates with your wedding colors. Using your own broom can also be a great bonding activity for the bridesmaids, perhaps the night, or week before the wedding.

Feel free to use bows, flowers, or other trinkets to make it unique. But don't overdo it. You " ll probably want this for a keepsake in your home. Another idea is to have a basket full of ribbon pieces at the reception and allow guests to tie ribbon around the broom before you begin the ceremony.

This allows the audience to participate, which is keeping the African tradition of community involvement. 6. Have your host ask guests to form a circle around the couple as they stand in front of the broom on the floor. The host should discuss the symbolism behind the broom as it relates to the joining of the couple and the combining of two families, and the need for the community to support the couple. Meanwhile have the couple hold the broom handle together and sweep around the circle until the host or designated person is finished talking.

The groom should then place the broom on the floor and hold the bride's hand. Have everyone count 1, 2, 3... JUMP! 7. Planning and celebrating an African-inspired wedding includes knowing your history and understanding the rich cultural traditions and symbols of your heritage. 8.

Brides are part of the social universe in African culture. "they were seen as an important link between the ancestors and the unborn," says Sulayman N yag, director of African Studies at Howard University. "A woman who is entering matrimony is in a powerful position, because she can be the mother of a chief or a warrior. That is why the Zulus of South Africa call the mother the big house." 9. Today, in general, African wedding customs are changing. "Some couples are going as far as to court themselves," says Peter Pipit, education specialist at the Smithsonian's African American Museum in Washington, D.

C. "In some cases, couples become husband and wife through a situation similar to our common law agreement." Old and new weddings and customs are changing... adjusting. 10. Africa is rich in cultural traditions, especially wedding and marriage rituals. The people of Africa and of African dissent celebrate the bonding of a woman and a man in a variety of ways..