The Evolution Of The Baby Shower
Regardless of where you live in this world, the tradition of the baby shower continues to be practiced everywhere. The baby shower is the first opportunity to welcome a new child into a family or its surrounding community. It’s also about coming together in celebration for mother, child and the family as it is one of the few things in life that brings everyone together worldwide.
Early Days of the Baby Shower
Many historians believe they have evidence of baby showers dating back a couple thousand years to the Egyptian and Roman empires. Back then, the village’s women, or family members, would gather up gifts that were homemade and were useful for the new mother and that would allow her to care for the baby. This could include items such as cloth diapers, clothes and blankets. Therefore allowing the expectant mother to prepare before the baby was born.
The showers didn’t always happen before the baby was born. In fact the celebration used to take place approximately a month after the baby was born and often coincided with their christening or other religious event. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that women of the Victorian era introduced the tea party to the celebration for the expectant mother and were often attended by the wealthier families. With ladies carrying umbrellas to their tea parties, the umbrella became symbolic at baby showers as well.
With the new century starting up, the baby shower was officially born. The baby shower became modeled after bridal showers, and the tea parties became more traditional and baby focused. However, the parties continued to be celebrated by only the wealthier families and still took place after the baby was born. Generally it was done after the birth so the women could gather and welcome the child, but also because pregnant women were not to be seen in public. By having the party afterwards, allowed the new mother to be seen.
Modern Day Showers Begin To Take Shape
Presently, the tradition of the baby shower is known as a naturally celebrated event, and often before the birth of the baby. The modern day baby shower started to take shape after World War II largely in part due to the baby boom generation taking place. America was in a victorious mood and people wanted to have a good time. Generally it was still women that attended and the showers that went from tea parties to punches, game playing of all kinds and gifts being “showered” upon the expectant mother.
In addition, the shower was often only done for the first child. Although the showers were happening before the birth, at times the shower was still being held afterwards so that family and friends can see the baby for the first time.
Baby Showers of the 21st Century
The modern day baby shower is often hosted by maid/matron of honor, another close friend or a family member. These showers are quite often themed and include various games, along with the usual food (formally catered or finger foods), drinks and gift giving. Whereas before it was all about the mother being showered with gifts, it now has an increased importance on the guests being entertained for taking the time to be part of the special day.
The guest list has also evolved over time as these showers went from small, intimate affairs with family and a couple of close friends, to a gathering of family, many friends, work associates, church members, and often men are attending too. More and more children are also attending. In fact, often the mother to be will have a small gathering at her work as well for those who are not invited to the official party. One positive aspect to having more than one gathering is that it allows the honoree time to spend with everyone and that they all have an opportunity to participate in the celebration and games. Also different today is that showers almost always take place before the birth, thus allowing the parents to get items they need prior to the birth of the child. In addition, with parents now often knowing the sex of the baby ahead of time, the party and gifts can be gender related. One other new trend is that of hiring a family portrait photographer. Often the photographer shoots the shower with professional quality or they might be documenting the child’s first year of life, from the baby shower to their dedication/christening, family portraits at six months and their first birthday.