Should a broom-jump be included in an African-American Catholic wedding?


#1

An African American friend of mine is marrying soon. She is a convert to Catholicism and is leery of adding the customary broom jump to a Catholic nuptial Mass. To explain it briefly: Over the last few decades many African Americans include a ceremony within a wedding that has the bride and groom jump over a broom. The broom-jump is supposed to have been the only public acknowledgment of a marriage allowed to black slaves who were otherwise forbidden to marry. Re-creating the jump now is a means of honoring ancestors.

Anyway, my friend and her fiance would rather leave this out and simply include their deceased ancestors in the prayer intentions, but do not want to disappoint their non-Catholic families who are expecting the ritual. My friend’s mother has even offered to specially decorate a broom for the occasion.

Should this ritual be included in a Catholic nuptial Mass?


#2

The Church is usually very lenient in allowing customs such as you describe to be included in Catholic weddings. Other such customs that are not part of the Catholic wedding liturgy but are generally allowed are the unity candle, the exchange of thirteen coins, wrapping the bride and groom with a cord, the sword arch at a military wedding, presenting flowers to a statue of the Blessed Mother, etc. Because such customs are extraneous to the liturgy, some parishes discourage couples from including them at the ceremony, so your friend and her fiance should speak to their priest about the possibility of including a broom-jump. Should he agree and should they wish to include it, it would be fine to include a broom-jump in the wedding ceremony.

If the priest discourages its inclusion at the ceremony, or should the bride and groom decide that they do not want to include it in the ceremony, an option that may satisfy the family members who would be otherwise disappointed might be to have the jump take place at the wedding reception. Wedding receptions have traditionally been home to beloved customs that do not otherwise fit into or belong at the wedding itself (e.g., the bouquet toss, pelting the couple with rice).


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