Baby showers are very popular today. The most trending event today is the upcoming baby shower of Kim Kardashian, which is to welcome her fourth child. News reports say that she is “high key freaking out” with the CBD themed bash she’s been planning with her husband Kanye West. Apart from the prenatal massages, there’s going to be a tea ceremony with crystals. This surrogate baby is the second boy the Wests are going to have.
Coming back to the origin of this tradition that is very popular today, it probably became a guessing game as far as the gender of the baby was concerned (there were no ultrasounds or scans then). However, it is believed that this tradition is as old as humankind and can be traced back to the very beginnings of human culture, and has been evolving ever since.
The Age-Old Practice
Baby shower is believed to be an age-old practice that can be traced way back to the Egyptian and Greek civilizations. The people then had this practice of welcoming new life into this world. The only difference was that the mom-to-be was never given any gifts, nor was she entitled to any prenatal massages. Soon after birth, the moms were almost quarantined, because the birth process was believed to be “unclean” and needed some purification rituals. After the purification, a visit to the temple was common. The Greeks had a tradition of shouting soon after labor, and this was believed to be a sign of imminent peace that would descend on the community.
During the Middle Ages
Right from the 5th century to the 15th century the focus was more on God rather than on the mom. The most important birth celebration that people followed was the Baptism ceremony that was celebrated a day after the baby’s birth. Strangely, a mom was not allowed to participate in the festivities as tradition prescribed that she undergo a 40-day sequestering, which was more like a forced rest.
Baby Showers during the Renaissance Period
While the baby shower celebrations during the Middle Ages were rather utilitarian in nature, the same started becoming acts of self-indulgence and were wrought with moral decadence. Of course, Baptisms were still held in high regard, but it was during the Renaissance period that the moms were given equal importance. The mom was pampered during this period and was showered with gifts and goodies. She was given good food, expensive clothes and some wealthy families even indulged in presenting paintings as gifts, which were a sort of rage during the Renaissance period. It was quite common for a mom to receive an inlaid wooden tray that often had a message of good wishes for her and her newly arrived baby. The tray was often loaded with goodies meant for the mother and child.
Baby Showers during the Victorian Age
The advent of the Victorian Age saw a revival of sorts and baby showers started evolving in a new light. Though pregnant women were rarely seen in public, they had the luxury of being hosted tea parties in their honor. This was a time when women were reluctant to announce their pregnancy publicly and it was still mentioned in hushed whispers.
This tradition lingered on until the late 1800s and the early 1900s and all baby shower celebrations had a festive feel with more emphasis on joy with the fun element being given more importance. Grandmothers took pride in their granddaughters becoming pregnant and lavished expensive silverware as gifts. This was also an excuse to help out financially burdened families cope up with the additional expenses and the recipients did not feel bad accepting such generosities. This is when the gifts turned more practical and the new mom was given items of clothing, a comfortable supply of diapers as well as bathing essentials.
Modern-day Baby Showers
The gift giving tradition follows to this day, though the festivities are often more colorful and end up as bashes, as in the case of Kim Kardashian and many other celebrities like her. The festivities are often hosted by the close family and friends of the moms-to-be, though some still consider it an all-family affair. The best part of the festivities of today is that dads-to-be are also brought to the limelight, and very much like paternity leave being granted by huge corporate, baby showers focus on modern-day fathers as well. The fathers indulge by inviting their uncles and grandfathers and also their bowling and golfing buddies to partake in the festivities.
Today, you can leave the planning to baby shower planners (akin to wedding planners) and expect them to take care of everything. You can leave it to the hostesses, who scramble around to make the event a grand success. Family members and friends take great pride in helping out with the setting up of tables, food, drinks, games and decor, making it easier for the mom to relax and enjoy the event rather than have to do all the planning.
While some still stick to traditional gifts like clothes and diapers, there are some thoughtful donors who gift Baby Heartbeat Monitors, breast pumps and other nursery essentials. While yet others pamper the moms-to-be with expensive indulgences like sponsoring special spa treatments and lavishing chic baskets that are frightfully expensive. Baby showers have indeed come a long way down the ages and will firmly remain in place as long as there are bonny babies coming into this world.