Using African Traditions in an African-American Wedding

Many African Americans choose to include their heritage in their special day. There are countless ways to honor your ancestors during your wedding ceremony and reception. You may also choose to add ethnic touches to the bridal shower and wedding party gifts. Wedding customs and rituals vary from region to region in Africa. Yet there are some customs that have a common thread in African values, views, and experiences which provide uniformity. In general, African marriages celebrate the uniting of two families. Introducing aspects of your culture during the wedding ceremony and/or reception is a way of celebrating your heritage and ancestry. Because African Americans are descended from slaves who were forcibly removed from their homelands, their customs were not able to develop naturally. They had to be re-created. They had lost their homeland, their community structure and their freedom all at once. Since they were not allowed to marry under the law, they had to find inventive rituals and traditions. The tradition of “jumping the broom” is one such tradition. The broom itself held spiritual significance for many African peoples since the new bride had traditionally helped other women in her new family sweep the courtyard clean. This symbolized her willingness to help out with her future family. During slavery, the couple would literally jump over a broom to begin the marriage. Today, this is becoming a traditional part of Afro-centric weddings ceremony as a way of honoring the trials of the couple’s ancestors. Drums were an important part of wedding ceremonies both in Africa and here in America, until they were outlawed. The “talking drums” were considered too dangerous to be allowed. In nearly all African tribes, the wedding contained much symbolism involving the bringing together of two families. Anything that would center on this blending of families (such as the bride’s family and the groom’s family forming lines and then exchanging places) would be in keeping with this tradition. In some African tribes, the bride and groom have their wrists tied together with cloth or braided grass to represent their marriage. Today's modern couples may choose to have the officiant or a close friend tie their wrists together with a piece

hot (cayenne). the bride and groom taste four flavors that represent different emotions within a relationship. Many African-American couples incorporate the sharing of a kola nut into their ceremonies. By tasting each of the flavors. The four flavors typically used are sour (lemon). Some African-American couples choose to convey their heritage through clothing. beauty and power. some Africans pour Holy water. The brides may wear their hair in braids with ornaments on their wrists and necks bejeweled. In Nigeria. enjoy the sweetness of marriage. The possibilities are endless. the ceremony is not complete until a kola nut is shared between the couple and their parents. bitter (vinegar). or alcohol. cakes and decoration or table centerpieces express the tradition. Kente is used as wedding attire for the bridal party. food serving. and. Some African American couples choose to incorporate a libation ceremony as an opportunity to honor those that have recently passed away. onto the ground as prayers are recited to the ancestral spirits. It can be as simple as bridesmaids wrapped in African shawls and groomsmen with Kente cloth cummerbunds and bowties. Nigerian brides and bridesmaids typically don a bubah. Cowrie shells. To honor their ancestors. in the end. It is also essential in most African weddings. Cowrie shells are a significant favorite used in bridal attire. Some tribes would braid grass and use it to bind the bride and groom’s wrists together to symbolize their union. the couple symbolically demonstrates that they will be able to get through the hard times in life. an elegant four piece ensemble that includes a long outer wrap and matching headpiece. Today they can be worn in bridal necklaces or used to trim gowns. Use of the shell design in favors. . and sweet (honey). In Ghana. The Kola nut is most often used for medicinal purposes in Africa. The Kola nut symbolizes the couple's willingness to always help heal each other. Depending on where they are from. Today's brides may also choose to wear an African-inspired gown with African Adinkra symbols included in the fabric. the African bride's attire will represent the area with exciting colors and meaningful designs. and then keep the nut in their home afterwards as a reminder to always work at healing any problems they encounter. or as elaborate as the groom and groomsmen in traditional Nigerian garb called agbada. jackets and headpieces in silver and white. They are also a symbol of purification.of kente cloth or a strand of cowrie shells during the ceremony while stating the wedding vows. indigenous to West Africa represent fertility and prosperity and were once used as money. In on Yoruba ritual.

Gye Nyame. Akoma.Wearing an African-inspired gown with Adinkra symbols woven into the fabric is a special way to incorporate African tradition in your wedding. Adinkra symbols were adapted by the Asante people of Ghana. Me Ware Wo. Osram Ne Nsoromma is a stands for the harmony that exists in the bond between a man and a woman AKOMA GYE NYAME ME WARE WO OSRAM NE NSOROMMA . Akoma is a heart symbol that signifies patience and tolerance. Gye Nyame signifies the supremacy of god. The symbols represent different concepts or ideas. Adinkra symbols are common in Western African societies. a country situated on the Atlantic between Togo and the Ivory Coast. and Osram Ne Nsoromma. Me Ware Wo symbolizes commitment and perseverance. pottery and logos. Adinkra symbols can be found everywhere in Ghana including fabrics. specifically Ghana. Some common Adinkra symbols used in weddings include. walls.

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