5 African-American Wedding Traditions

February is Black History Month so I thought I’d blog about a few African-American Wedding traditions starting with one of the most popular, jumping the broom:

1)      Jumping The Broom: This wedding tradition is nearly synonymous with African-American weddings. There are several interpretations including that it represents sweeping away the past and the beginning of a fresh future. Another interpretation is that the broom represents the feminine principle and the bride’s willing acceptance to maintain her new household.

2)      The Dolla Dance aka The Money Dance: Versions of this dance are popular at African-American, Hispanic, Pilipino and Polish Weddings. Traditionally, male guests take turns dancing with the bride after presenting her with a dollar bill. In modern weddings it’s becoming more common for female guest to also dance with the groom after presenting him with a dollar.

3)      Honoring the Elders: In many West African cultures, it is considered proper to ask the blessing of the oldest person in attendance before proceeding with any weddings or similar ceremonies. This practice is becoming more prevalent among African-American weddings.

4)      The Electric Slide: You’d have to look far and wide to find an African-American wedding reception that didn’t include the Electric Slide, a dance first made popular in the late 1970s and featured in just about every African-American wedding themed movie made in recent years. If  you haven’t seen this dance you can check it out on YouTube.

5) Tasting the Four Elements: In this mini-ceremony, the bride and groom take turns tasting honey, lemon, cayenne and kola nuts to represent that all marriages will experience times of sweetness, sourness, hotness and bitterness and to demonstrate that the couple has the strength to make it through the good as well as the not-so-good times.

Leap Year Wedding Traditions

The year 2012 is not only an election year but also a leap year, meaning that February has 29 days. According to tradition, February 29th is the day that it is appropriate for a woman to propose marriage to her reticent beau. Legend has it that in ancient Ireland, St. Brighid complained to St. Patrick that women were unhappy that they had to wait so long for their men to propose. As a compromise, St. Patrick authorized February 29th as the date that women could propose marriage.

Leap year is also a popular wedding date for couples with a sense of humor; or husbands who want far fewer opportunities to forget their wedding anniversary.