Getting together and celebrating a woman’s transition into motherhood is nothing new. Through the ages there have been different versions of these celebrations which we’ve come to know as baby showers. Some mothers-to-be were indeed celebrated while others were confined to their home as they were considered unclean. So where did it all start?
In ancient times, babies were celebrated after they were born. A form of a baby shower (rituals associated with birth and pregnancy) can be noted in ancient Egypt where pharaoh’s murals depict a celebration. The celebration, the Sebou’ (seventh in Arabic), is held seven days after the birth. The Ancient Greeks also celebrated the pregnancy after the birth of the child. After the initial 10 day period, where mum and baby where considered to be impure, the mother was then celebrated with a family dinner!
But not all mothers were treated equally. During the Middle Ages a priest would visit during labour so the mother-to-be could confess her sins in case she died, and when she gave birth, she was confined for 40 days as she was considered unclean. Childbirth was not only considered physically dangerous but spiritually as well. Fast forward 100 years and the mothers-to-be of the Renaissance era would often be surrounded by references of the Annunciation to encourage her. However, a Victorian woman (1837-1901), would keep her pregnancy a secret as long as possible and would not appear in public due to differing views of ‘appropriate’ behaviour.
The start of the so called modern baby shower (which is held before the birth of a child), started after WWII’s baby boom era when it was important to help provide the mother-to-be with material goods that reduced the financial pressure of a new baby.
In addition to all of these rituals there were and are cultural and religious variations. Nowadays, anything goes. A baby shower can: have men, be an afternoon tea, be a lavish party, have games or no games, be held at home, at a café or a workplace. Parents-to-be are celebrated and typically receive many gifts including clothes and toys for the baby and gifts for the parents.
Have you been to an unusual baby shower? Or maybe a nouveau ‘gender reveal’ party? We’d love to hear from you.