top of page

broom folklore & history

  • Brooms are a symbol of good luck around the world. They sweep away bad fortune and protect against evil.

  • Lay a broom across your threshold on New Year’s Day to keep evil spirits at bay for the rest of the year.

  • ​If a bride and groom jump over a broom together while holding hands, their marriage will be blessed with good fortune.

  • ​For good luck, always buy a new broom when you move into a new house.

  • ​It is bad luck to rest a broom on its bristles.

  • ​It is good luck to rest a broom on its handle.

  • ​To make sure your meal is good, lay a broom under your dining room table while cooking.

  • ​A broom laid under your bed sweeps away all bad dreams.

  • ​If a visitor is overstaying his welcome, stand a broom up behind the door of the room in which he’s being entertained. He will soon grow uncomfortable and leave.

  • ​To bring rain within three days, dip a broom into a bucket of water into which a dried fern has been crumbled and then hold the broom aloft, shaking the water out to simulate rainfall.

  • The phrase “flying off the handle” comes from broom lore. When a woman would get frustrated trying to chase her children out of the kitchen so she could finish with the cooking, a swat from the broom was a last resort, sending the straw flying off the handle and across the room.

  • The phrase “living over the brush” refers to a common-law relationship, and dates back to Europe in the 19th century when a couple would jump the broom to signify marriage if they could not afford a wedding.

  • A new broom brings good luck and harmony to a home. A broom, salt, and bread completes a traditional housewarming gift:

    • Bread – That this house may never know hunger.

    • Salt – That life may always have flavor.

    • Broom – To sweep away troubles.

broom history

I have found that the Internet has a plethora of information, and there is great information on the history of brooms available if you are interested in reading!  Broom-making could be a disappearing art form if folks don't take the time to learn the skill and keep the art alive for future generations.  For some families, broom-making has been passed down from generation to generation, and those stories truly capture the heart-felt nature of this craft. 
Excerpt from a New York Times article:
FOR THOUSANDS OF years and still today in many parts of the world, brooms were fashioned at home as needed from whatever brushy stuff was on hand: reeds, sticks or grasses, lashed together, often with a stick pushed into them. The British turned these round-bottom besoms, as they were called, into a trade with besom squires hawking their wares, but Americans created the broom as we know it today. Given this country’s puritanical legacy and its conflation of godliness and cleanliness, it’s not surprising that America’s singular contribution to world handicraft would be the enhanced collection of dust from inaccessible corners.

At the end of the 18th century, the story goes, a Massachusetts farmer decided to fashion a broom for his wife from the long seed tassels of Sorghum vulgare, a corn look-alike cultivated as animal feed. This so-called “broom corn” captured dirt rather than just pushing it around, making it better suited to sweeping than any bundle of brush that preceded it. Today, it is still used in manufactured brooms around the world.

But the transformation of brooms from round to flat — their Copernican Revolution — was the brainchild of the efficiency-seeking Shakers. Soon after the widespread adoption of broom corn in the early 1800s, one of their brethren clamped the wayward bristles down with a vise and stitched them flat. This new, slender profile increased control and range, covering a greater area more quickly.

Though nearly all brooms today are unremarkable objects mass-produced in Mexico, there are a small number of people in North America devoted to hand-crafting them. The makers run the gamut from Americana buffs to hippie holdouts, and the brooms are mostly minimalist Shaker or backwoods Appalachian in style (wonkily bent, bark-clad branches as handles and decorative braiding). 

bottom of page