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Broom facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Czech broom

A broom is a cleaning tool. It consists of stiff fibres attached to, and roughly parallel to, a cylindrical handle, the broomstick. In the context of witchcraft, "broomstick" is likely to refer to the broom as a whole. A smaller whisk broom or brush is sometimes called a duster.

History of broom design

Women using brooms made from bambusa (1899)

Brooms have changed very much in their construction, since they developed from ad-hoc use of branches and bundles of several natural fibres. Originally, all brooms were round, a shape that is easy to construct but inefficient for actually sweeping. Brooms could be attached to a handle, either short for a whisk broom, or long for a broom used to sweep the floor or fireplace. The word for the tool was originally besom, broom simply being the material of which it was normally made. The fibres used in modern brooms are from broom corn. They are long, straight, durable, and bound together in the plant. The newest major change is the flat broom, invented by the Shakers in the 1800s, which has far more width for pushing dirt and nearly all brooms produced today are flat brooms.

Brooms and witchcraft

Brooms have long been connected with witchcraft, almost universally portrayed as medieval-style round brooms and associated with female witches. Despite the association with women, in 1453, the first known case of claiming to have flown on a broomstick is recorded, confessed by the male witch Guillaume Edelin.

In Literature and Poetry

  • In the Bible, Luke 15:8 "The Parable of the Lost Coin", the broom is used as a symbol for women's work. "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?"
  • In many works of fiction, broomsticks are pictured as a means of air transport for witches. A broom is usually flown with the brush behind the rider.
  • The Harry Potter book series is distinctive in portraying magical flying brooms as used equally by both sexes, and especially prominently by Quidditch players as analogues of polo ponies.
  • Many toys and costume accessories have been made in the form of brooms.

Related pages

  • Dundes, A. (1996) "Jumping the Broom": On the origin and meaning of an African American Wedding Custom. The Journal of American Folklore. 109 (433) p. 324-329. Retrieved from JSTOR
  • Gabriel Dumont Institute. (2001). Broom Dance, Metisfest 2001. Retrieved on May 18, 2007 from The Virtual Museum of Metis History and Culture. Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research.

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