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Baby Showers

Celebrating The Birth of a Baby: Past and Present
by Kimberly Aardal

When women want to celebrate the birth of a baby, they'll throw the expectant mother a baby shower. Yet, many of these women have no idea how the tradition of this event came about. They have no idea that in one point in history, it was taboo to be pregnant in public. Times have certainly changed.

In fact, the baby shower world is much more sophisticated than in days past. Present-day baby showers have taken on a much bigger and extravagant role in the upcoming birth of baby. Every hostess wants to outdo other hostesses; they'll do research on creative ideas for a baby shower and come up with a theme that's sure to capture their guests' attention.

It's during this baby shower that the expectant mother will receive gifts that can help her take care of her new little one after his/her birth. Some gifts she may receive include clothes, diapers, baby wipes, bath items, etc. Now, it's not uncommon for family members of the expectant mother to purchase one big gift that the mother can use such as a crib, dutailier nursery glider, changing table, etc.

How Baby Showers oF the Past Resemble the Present

One thing most women don't realize is that in the past childbirth was considered an impure event and it was not uncommon for pregnant women of Egypt and Greece to be sequestered until the labor pains were over and the baby was born. The Greeks generally shouted out when a woman's labor was over because it was a sign that peace had resumed.

Most celebrations would take place after the baby's birth including the ritual of visiting temples and holding festivals where the baby's name would be introduced. Once 10 days had passed, a congratulatory meal was held for the mother and family and friends would bring gifts. The new mother would bestow gifts to the birth goddess in thanks.

What Was Done in the Middle Ages for a "Baby Shower"

Keep in mind that baby showers weren't called baby showers in the Middle Ages; they were actually just festivals and recognitions of a baby's birth. Women in this time period would be isolated from the rest of the community for about 40 days even missing her own child's baptism, which was typically done the day the child was born unless there were unforeseen circumstances that postponed it. A child was greatly influenced by his/her godparents, who played the important role of spiritual tutors and would give silver spoons for their gift.

What Was the "Baby Shower" Like in yhe Renaissance Era

The Renaissance era was like the Middle Ages in just one aspect when it came to celebrating the birth of a baby and that was presenting gifts to the mother. However, gifts of this time were not silver and generally didn't just come from the godparents. Common baby-celebrating gifts included a painted birth tray that was inscribed with tons of good wishes and carried out to the mother with other gifts such as food, clothes and paintings piled on.

Celebrating New Life in the Victorian Era

Gifts were also given during the Victorian era, usually after the baby was born and during the customary tea party. It's important to note that pregnant women generally did not appear in public, which meant the majority of them would hide the pregnancy for as long as they could.

What Expectant Mothers Get from 20th Century Baby Showers

During the early to mid 1900s, the customary tea party changed over to the baby shower most people recognize today. Expectant mothers received gifts, the majority of which were handmade; grandmothers (not godparents) would give silver as their gifts.

It's the baby showers of the 1950s that most women (and some men) really recognize. After all, it's these baby showers that helped the parents-to-be offset the financial costs, as guests would give clothes, diapers, bathing products, sleepers, etc. Of course, present-day baby showers are pretty much given for the very same reason.

The Look of Present-Day Baby Showers - What Does the Expectant Mother Want

Baby shower hostesses have a big job of putting together a party that guests will always remember. However, the one person who will always remember the party will be the expectant mother; thus, if you're a baby shower hostess, it may be in your best interest to talk with her about what she'd like.

Does she want a simple event with a few close friends? Would she like it if a big crowd were to attend? Once you have this information, you can pick where you will hold it. If it's a simple-done affair, then a modest-sized house will do just fine. Otherwise, you may need a really large house or rent a place to hold the celebration.

Now, as a hostess, you'll be responsible for all the invitations, food, party favors, games, decorations and more. In your invitations, you should mention if the mom-to-be has a baby gift registry. What's this? It's the same thing as a wedding registry but it will be presents that the mother can use for her new little one . . . things that she would want to have and need.

Women-Only or Co-Ed Baby Showers

It wasn't that long ago that men did not attend this kind of affair, as it was geared more toward women. However, just like the baby showers in the past, times have changed. Fathers-to-be are being invited more and more and his friends are also getting invitations to join the affair.

No matter if you choose to invite men or leave it a women-only event, there's a single theme that surrounds the party: celebrate the birth of a new baby. From the beginnings of this celebration to today, gifts and food have been an integral part of it all. A person has to wonder if the baby showers of today will be the same 50 years from now and if not, just what will they be like?

About the Author:
Kimberly Aardal is the publisher of EveryDayRockingChairs.com and enjoys writing reviews and providing information about various types of rocking chairs. When she's not reclining in her glider recliner chair, she is writing about baby rocking chairs, gliders and outdoor rockers. She also spends her time hiking in the mountains of Colorado with her husband Jon.

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