Baby Showers - Then and Now
Have you ever wondered where the concept of baby showers came from? I certainly have. I have especially wondered if those games and other things that are associated with baby showers were always a part of the picture - or, is the baby shower a recent invention of some entrepreneur who saw a huge market in baby related items.
History Of Baby Showers
When observed from the perspective of life cycles, baby showers have some historical and psychological reality. Birth is definitely celebrated by many cultures at different points in the experience and in myriad ways. In North America, baby showers the way we know them now only came into popularity after the great baby boom, post World War 2. Prior to that time, it seems baby showers were something the more affluent segments of society engaged in. After the birth, when the baby was presented there was a party of sorts. It provided a way for the mother to have guests while she and the new baby were in confinement - which was often for the period of a month. Only women came, or were invited to come, because birthing and children were "women's affairs". Traditionally such gatherings were for the first child only with the thought that the gifts would be passed down to other children as they came.
After Baby is Born
Today you can find everyone and anyone at a baby shower. Dads, siblings of the new baby, family and friends of the parents are all in attendance. The biggest change to the baby shower though lies in the fact that in North America they are held before the baby's birth rather than afterward. In most cultures baby showers are still held after the baby is born. Many cultures believe that by having a shower before the birth of the baby causes evil to be evoked upon the baby. If you consider that until the middle of the last century, there was still a very high incidence of miscarriages, still-births and infant deaths, you can appreciate why the delay. These incidents still happen and there are still cultures which do not have pre-birth showers for this very reason. The Jewish culture holds this line of thought.
Before Baby is Born
In other cultures, such as in India where the infant mortality rate is still extremely high, the shower is held in the seventh month and includes a huge dinner for the relatives and a ceremony which is primarily attended by women. Everyone dresses to the hilt. The mother-in-waiting is given a red mark on her forehead for good luck and then her lap is filled with gifts which are considered to be good omens, such as jewelry, money and expensive items.
Either Way - There Are Gifts Galore
What is and has been consistent through the years is gifting the baby and the mother. Things that were handmade or very expensive were given as gifts to be kept and passed on. Today, many showers are given with a theme in mind and the gifts reflect the theme.