Many African American couples, wanting to save their heritage and tradition from oblivion, incorporate some of the customs into one of the most special days in their lives - wedding.
African Americans at some period in the history were forced to slavery and during those very difficult times for them, their former tradition was forbidden so they had to create tradition and customs for special occasions like weddings.
Their rituals are unique, which means that they trace back their heritage using old cultural traditions.
When it comes to African American weddings, there are many customs, which lot of couples practice thus trying not to forget their own roots. Here are some of them:
Jumping the broom is a custom, which symbolizes the beginning of making a home together. This custom has its roots from the period of slavery when the slaves were forbidden to marry.
Jumping over the broom was
the statement of their love and commitment and pronounced their entrance into
matrimony. As broom had spiritual significance as a device used to sweep the
old life away, often the bride would sweep the courtyard with groom's family in
order to show them that she wanted to help them. The broom is then placed on
the floor and after the vows and pronouncement the bride and the groom would
jump over it and jump into their new life.
Cowrie shells – some African American brides choose
to wear cowrie shells necklaces or to decorate their attire with cowrie shells
because it is believed that cowrie shells encourage fertility. In the past,
some African tribes used cowrie shells as money while today they are used for
purification and as a symbol of power and beauty.
Tasting the four elements is the custom that is almost forgotten
by many African American couples. This ritual actually dramatizes the
traditional promise to love "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in
sickness and in health". The four elements represent the sour, the bitter,
hot and sweet times in a marriage. Usually lemon, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and
honey are used to represent these flavors. The bride and the groom taste these
four elements, which symbolize all the ups and downs of marriage. After they
have tried all these flavors, they demonstrate that they are not only married
to each other but to their families too by feeding the members of the family unleavened
Tying the knot – some African tribes have the tradition to tie the wrists of the bride and the groom together thus symbolizing the bond of marriage. Today's African American couples usually use a strand of rope, kente cloth or a strand of cowrie shells to tie the wrists together as part of wedding ceremony.
Libation ceremony – pouring of libation is very important part of wedding ceremony for African American couples. This ritual is carried out to show respect for ancestors and elders. Holly water or alcohol is poured into the ground as prayers and calls on the ancestors to join the assembled guests in witnessing this sacred occasion.
The first wedding between two people is something that should be cherished and remembered for the rest of their lives and regarding African American wedding customs there are many others that could be considered if wanted to honor the heritage.
African American Wedding Party Invitation