Baby showers are a cause of joy, be it any part of the world. It is a celebration of motherhood. Although throwing baby shower parties are most popular in Australia, the UK, and the US, other countries have fascinating traditions.
In Australia and other western countries, the practice is to ‘shower’ the mom-to-be with gifts. Friends of the expecting mothers throw the parties.
Australian moms comment on baby shower etiquette saying that it is not unacceptable if the others drink before the mom-to-be. It is a practice that is sometimes discouraged as the mom cannot drink during pregnancy. Baby shower gifts are also a point of contention as some people stress over the appropriate size.
Although the term ‘baby shower’ may be a recent coinage, celebrations of mothers and birth have been in existence since the ancient days. Different countries and regions had their unique baby showers and rituals for motherhood and pregnancy. The ceremonies were held after birth in the olden days. Egyptians generally visited shrines and ceremonially disposed of the after-birth (placenta, umbilical cord, etc.)
Other regions had different ways to celebrate pregnancy and childbirth. Let us look at some.
Grecians celebrated after birth. The mother and the helpers would shout ‘Ology’ soon after the birth to signal the completion. The umbilical cord was cut immediately after. The mother and the baby remained in isolation as they would be considered impure for ten days.
After about a week after birth, the child is celebrated by a ritual known as ‘Amphidromia.’ It involved the father walking around a hearth several times, signifying the child’s addition to the family. On the tenth day, ‘Dekate,’ a ritual is held to mark the mother’s integration into society. The celebrations consist of a meal joined by close family and friends.
In Europe and other Judaism regions, childbirth was a significant religious event. A priest would visit the expecting mother to carry out the confession ritual. It is carried out to ensure that in the event of the mother’s death, her sins are forgiven. The baby shower would be, in all likelihood, the baptism given to the infant soon after birth.
The tradition of ‘Seemantham’ specifically observed in South-India is akin to the “Godh Bharai” of the north. Indian baby showers are ritualistic and deeply religious. It is held in the 6th or 8th month of pregnancy. A tikka is applied on the woman’s forehead, accompanied by the application of turmeric paste on her hands and legs. Gifts and eatables are showered on the mom-to-be to provide nourishment to the baby.
An interesting practice is the playing of music, which is intended for the baby’s ears as it is a belief, backed by science, that the baby develops hearing in the womb.
In South Africa, ‘stork parties’ is the term used for baby showers. The widely held folk belief that storks deliver the baby is the reason behind it. It is a surprise party hosted by friends, and the mom is gifted supplies for the newborn. It is held, like a costume party where the invitees come to dress up in silly costumes.
Afghani baby showers happen right after birth. The gender of the baby is already known; therefore, the baby shower gifts consist of things the baby needs. The party comprises large decadent meals and a lot of guests.