Baby Showers – How it All Started
The main purpose of baby showers is to celebrate the miracle of birth. However, like all celebrations, baby showers have become completely commercialized. You can now buy invitations for a shower if the baby is adopted and if twins are expected. Every expectation is catered for – that’s how things have changed since the 1940′s, the era in which the “modern” baby shower started becoming popular. While most of you know what a baby shower is, there are surely very few of you who know the origins of a baby shower, or how they are carried out in other countries?
Before the war years, it was only the very well-to-do social class who had a baby party as it was as a real “social event”. It took place after the baby was born, and often coincided with the baptism if the family was religious. Child birth and children were always seen as “woman’s affairs” so men were never invited. Baby showers were also only traditionally held for the first child and the gifts were expected to last for each child. What a contrast to today’s’ showers where each spoiled brat has its own shower and gets brand new gifts!
The period after the Second World War became known as the “baby boom” era, representing a time when people felt safe after all the drama of the war years. As the economy started improving families started to grow and people started holding little “celebrations” each time a baby was born. The men were getting salary increases and this was a great way to proudly show off their new wealth. Gifts were mostly handmade and consisted of necessities like clothing, blankets or even food!
Nowadays baby showers take place before the baby is born – and everyone already knows the sex. The shower is usually held 4-6 weeks before the baby is due. Husbands and children are often also invited. Usually, you are told what present to bring so duplicate gifts are avoided. Often a little, rhyming verse describing the baby or the present is written on the card. This causes much hilarity, fun and laughter. In USA, guessing games are a big part of the shower, and the cake is normally in the shape of a diaper or a bottle!
Around the world baby showers are celebrated slightly differently. In Russia, a sweet porridge is cooked for the new mother and the midwife. This is known as “treating the knee” – probably because of the kneeling to deliver the baby. In the Middle East, a noisy ritual is held ten days after the birth so “the baby becomes used to loud noises for whenever the parents have a fight”. The French people in Belgium have visitors in the hospital as they stay there for 5 days. Gifts are brought in and the new mother gives her visitors what is known as “suikerbonon” (party favors) in exchange. So, now when you know a couple of baby shower trends around the world, in which country will you have your baby?!
From show-off baby showers after the war to our modern showers, everybody loves the fun tradition of a baby shower. They bring joy to people, and there is nothing like a tiny new life needing to be nurtured and cared for to restore your faith in humanity once again – the circle of life continues as it should.