Betting on the baby’s weight, weird baby shower games, favors shaped like diapers. From a rocker glider ottoman set for the nursery to a luxury spa treatment for the mom-to-be, a baby shower is the most common way for family and friends to pamper expecting parents. But did you even wonder how baby showers came to be? This guide will take you on a journey through one of society’s most common celebrations:
When I Was A Girl…
Humans have celebrated birth as a rite of passage for both mother and child as far back as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece. While it’s true that new mothers were sometimes confined to the home after birth because it was considered an “impure” process, ancient peoples honored new life. For example, the Greeks shouted to signal peace after labor was over. It was also common to visit temples or hold festivals to celebrate the baby’s arrival. Ten days after birth, friends and family treated the new mom with special meal. Instead of showering mom with gifts, however, mom was in charge of gift-giving—she dedicated gifts to the goddess of birth.
During the Middle Ages, baby celebrations were centered on religion. Newborns were often baptized the day after birth. The new mother wouldn’t have been part of the ceremony, though—she would have been sheltered—or sequestered—away for 40 days following the birth. As a result, a mom didn’t attend her own child’s baptism unless it was delayed. In fact, the central figures of the baptism were the Godparents. In the Middle Ages, these people played a critical role in the upbringing of a child since they acted as spiritual guides. Godparents traditionally gave the new baby silver spoons.
By the time the Henry VIII era rolled around, birth-related celebrations were about more than welcoming a child into the Christian religion. In fact, they seemed a bit more festive. Family and friends gave expecting moms a range of gifts that included paintings, clothes, and food. One of the must-have mom items of the Renaissance was a wooden tray painted with good wishes for the new family. The tray was then used to carry gifts and goodies to the new mom.
Party Like It’s 1899
It wasn’t until the buttoned-up Victorian era that baby parties started to take a more modern form. Although appearing in public with a baby belly was a no-no, new moms were honored after the child’s birth. Friends frequently threw a genuine Victorian-style tea party for the mom-to-be. As the 1900s progressed, the tea eventually morphed into a modern-style shower, complete with gifts. What was on the new mom’s wish list? Handmade items were definitely the preferred present, while silver gifts were the traditional gift given by the Grandmas.
Baby showers didn’t change much through the next few decades. By the 1950s, new moms often received gifts that would help with the financial burden of adding to the family. Popular gifts were diapers, bathing items, sleep items, and clothing.
Showers in the 2000s are as unique as the moms they honor. Styles range from chic and sophisticated to formal and elegant. Typically, manners mavens have dictated that friends of the bride host the event. However, more families are taking an active role in planning baby showers. Attendees are changing, too. More men—traditionally unwanted at a baby shower—are attending. Moms are also sharing honoree status with Dads, too. As a result, guest lists might include anyone from Great Grandpa Al to Dad’s fraternity brothers.
The party hostess—and it does still often fall to a woman to plan the event—is usually responsible for choosing a theme and incorporating that into other aspects of the celebration, such as the menu and the party favors. In addition, the hostess’s job is to entertain the guest of honor and the other attendees. From giggle-inducing games to tidbit-filled trivia contests, the shower planner is responsible for activities.
Baby shower gifts have evolved as well. Expecting moms might register for specific items, letting party-goers know, for example, that she prefers avocado green for the nursery or bashful pink for the stroller. While handmade gifts are still welcome, family and friends might also pitch in to splurge on one large gift, like nursery furniture.
From baby festivals to themed showers and everything in between, it’s clear that giving birth is a milestone worth celebrating. It should be, too. After all bringing new life into the world is a life changing event regardless of whether the new mom is wearing a Roman toga or a Manolo pump. What will the shower thrown for your granddaughter look like?
About the Author
Kimberly Aardal is the publisher of EveryDayRockingChairs.com. She enjoys writing about many products, including the Ultra Motion Sleigh Glider (see link below). Kimberly lives in Colorado and loves the cooking, decorating, the outdoors, and relaxing in her comfy rocking chair.