Care of Your Broom: Happy October

Now is the time to check on the condition of your broom! Let’s do a quick check!

Don’t have one? A broom makes a great housewarming gift by sweeping away your/their troubles!

Caring for your Broom:

1. Always store your broom by hanging it up, or standing it on its handle.

This will keep the broom’s shape and will keep stress off it. For good luck, hang it over your door.

Taken at Old Sturbridge Village in MA.

2. Keep your broom indoors.

Your broom should be kept out of direct sunlight so it doesn’t bleach out or dry out.

Keep it away from damp areas so it doesn’t mold or cause the straw to break down. This includes porches and sheds.

3. Be gentle when cleaning it.

Use cloth and soap to wipe clean, or dip in warm soapy water. Rinse your broom and hang it in a well ventilated area to dry.

copyright N.A.M.

4. If you live in a very dry area, and your broom looks dry, dip it in warm water and hang to dry. It will wick up some of the moisture.

Broom Bits:

1. The original old English term for broom was besom.

2. Brooms are made from broomcorn, a form of sorghum that was previously used in animal feed.

3. Levi Dickinson of Hadley, MA in 1797 grew broomcorn and invented a process to make brooms quickly to sell.

4. The Shakers, a religions sect in the American Northeast invented the flat face broom and the machine to make it. This was an improvement from the rounded broom allowing the owner to reach into corners and under things.

Handle with Care:

1. Rumor has it, a witch’s broom is made from an ash wood handle, birch twigs for the brush end, with willow used to tie them to the handle.

Ash wood has been tied to strength and flexibility. There are many old myths tied to it including Norse, who believed that it was a special ash tree that connected earth and heaven.

Birch wood was believed to have protective powers. Baby cradles were made from it. In Medieval Wales birch wreaths were given as love tokens, and Maypoles were made from it.

Willow is associated with taking away sadness. Think of the weeping willows on Victorian age gravestones.

Willow trees control ground water: the Moon controls the tides, so willows are associated with the moon.  

Shall we take a ride?

1. In rural communities in the middle ages, they preformed the “Broom Dance” under a full moon to improve the crops. Farmers danced and leapt about with a broomstick or pitchfork or poles between their legs. (Imagine a kid with a stick horse galloping about. Sounds the same. Or was this an early carnival ride??). Oh, there is a full moon tonight!

2. The first accused witch to confess to broom riding was in 1453 and was a man: Guillaum Edelin. (He confessed under torture)

3. The first illustration of women straddling brooms was in Martin LeFranc’s ‘Le Champion des Dames’ in 1451. Sources state the manner of dress depicts a religious sect that was frowned upon by the main church at the time.

Sweeping Conclusions:

Whether you ride or sweep with your broom, or both, having a handmade broom beside your back door or by your hearth seems to make a house a home.

Happy October!!

N. A. M.

This tidy post is © N.A.M. 2021 for Maplewood Press.

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