The Source of the Baby Shower

Is it the trendy party all expecting parents expect – the baby shower?

I asked myself that this morning and I was surprised to see that the answer is for the most part.

Here in the USA and most of the world, the answer would be yes.

Some of our friends who have been fortunate enough to live outside of the country have mentioned that it has become very fashionable there as well. I think the concept is great, honestly, for people who want/need it the chance to celebrate the arrival of the baby … What a special occasion. Traditionally it allows the mother-to-be to spend a day just for her – surrounded by the people she loves! More recently fathers-to-be have been getting in on the fun which I find wonderful. And long overdue.

Not everybody enjoys the attention however. Some do not like it because it feels too much like they are in the spotlight. And I personally can understand their aversion of being the center of attention. I really did not feel like I was up for it when we had our oldest.

Recently I have witnessed a trend for the organized surprise shower. And while I question the idea of startling a pregnant woman. A great party for a great mom-to-be shouldn't come as a surprise at all. And surprise parties are one of the few ways a reluctant mommy can be convinced to enjoy herself.

This morning I sat down and started to look into the idea of a baby shower. Mainly because I wanted to see where the tradition came from.

As it appears, prenatal customs are practiced all over the world and the concept of a meal featuring the new mother or a mother-to-be can be found in many cultures. So our idea of a shower isn't unique to the US but the way we handle it is. Each country observes these types of festivals under different names. In Latin America the festival is called fiesta de obsequios (literally "gift party") and Beb-beb in Brazil. In South Africa it is called a stork party, which sounded actually a little familiar so I am not certain if that might be used in most of the Common Wealth world.

The American term baby shower was derived from the idea of "showering" the mother-to-be with a shower of gifts. And due to our tendency to take things to the extreme in the United States this is believable. They began to appear in the early 1900s and then became more important in the post-World War II period. Originally, the party was organized to prepare the woman to become a mother, advice was given by the other women present. From there it entered popular culture, today the festival is often illustrated in television series such as Friends, Sex and the City, Grey's Anatomy, or Seinfeld and began to become popular in other parts of the world, namely, Western Europe, there after.

For example in France the co-ed shower is taboo. While it has become common here to celebrate with friends and family, the French tend to celebrate them exclusively female like we once did here. Though I should add that one site stated that this trend has begun to evolve as well.

Another interesting thing I learned is that French traditions would lead one to think that giving gifts to a baby who has not yet been born would bring bad luck and that this type of event only makes more sense after birth. Prior to the birth of the child simple affairs are hosted.

As you can see there are a lot of traditions and beliefs for the arrival of a new member of the family but many of them share similar structures.

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