...originates in the West African country of Ghana...Brooms were waved over the heads of marrying couples to ward off spirits. The couple would jump over the broom at the end of the ceremony...[and it] symbolized two things. The first was the wife's commitment or willingness to clean the courtyard of the new home she had joined. Furthermore, it expressed her overall commitment to the house. The second thing was the determination of who ran the household. Whoever jumped highest over the broom was the decision maker of the household (usually the man).
During slavery, slaves were often not allowed to marry, and so an alternative ceremony for marking a couple's commitment was adopted. Most historians and curators of African-American cultural collections agree that the tradition--at least as practiced by African-Americans--originated in the southern U.S. However, that is not entirely accepted; there is still speculation about possible African ceremonial origins, one of which was for a bride to sweep the home of her mother-in-law on her wedding day.
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