Jumping the Broom


During the time of slavery, Africans were forbidden to marry and live together so jumping over a broom became a declaration of a couples commitment to each other.  The tradition is still popular in weddings today,  at the end of their vows, the couple will join hands and jump over the broom. It is also a symbol of sweeping away the old and welcoming the new, or new beginnings. The broom is usually handmade and decorated beautifully so that the couple can display it in the home.



Crossing Sticks

crossing sticks

This tradition also dates back to the slave era. In this tradition, the couple each hold one stick or branch and create a cross shape. The sticks are meant to represent the strength and life of two trees, and is meant to give the couple a strong and grounded beginning. Usually the branches or sticks are plucked from both families homes or places meaningful to the couple. For a nice twist, the sticks can be decorated with colored string, yarn, ribbon, etc.



Libation Ceremony

libation ceremony2

As a way to honor their African ancestors, couples can incorporate a libation ceremony into their wedding ceremony.  Holy water, or alcohol, is poured onto the ground in each of the cardinal directions as prayers are recited to the ancestral spirits, and names of those that have recently passed are called out. This ceremony can also be used as an opportunity to honor the elders in a family, asking them to pass on their wisdom and guidance.



Tying the Knot


In this tradition, the bride and groom have their wrists tied together with cloth, ribbon or braided grass to represent their marriage. To symbolize your own unity, have your officiant or a close friend tie your wrists together with a piece of kente cloth or a strand of cowrie shells (symbols of fertility and prosperity), while affirming your commitment.



Tasting the Four Elements


In a ritual adapted from a Yoruba tradition, the bride and groom taste four flavors that represent different emotions within a relationship. The four flavors typically used are sour (lemon), bitter (vinegar), hot (cayenne), and sweet (honey). By tasting each of the flavors, the couple symbolically demonstrates that they will be able to get through the hard times in life, and, in the end, enjoy the sweetness of marriage.


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