A baby shower is a special event for expectant parents. It's a celebration where friends and family come together to commemorate the upcoming birth of a new baby and shower the expectant mother with love and good wishes. A typical baby shower includes food, games, and gifts for the new parents to ensure they have everything they need before the birth.
The Origin of the Baby Shower
The tradition of the baby shower has an ancient origin that can be traced back to Egyptian and Greek civilizations. During those times, the arrival of new life was welcomed into the world with spiritual rituals. The only difference was that the expectant mother didn't receive gifts. Shortly after giving birth, mothers were often placed in a form of quarantine because the process of childbirth was considered "unclean" and required purification rituals. These rituals included visits to sanctuaries and the ritual removal of afterbirth such as the placenta and umbilical cord.
During the Middle Ages
From the 5th to the 15th century, the focus of birth celebrations was more on God than the mother. The baptism of the newborn was considered the most important event in a person's life. Interestingly, the mother was not allowed to participate in the festivities because tradition dictated that she undergo a 40-day sequestration, which was more like compulsory rest. The primary purpose of baptism was to cleanse the child of original sin and remove any evil influences. Typically, a child was baptized on the day of its birth. The mother remained at home not only to recover but also because the church generally followed the Jewish custom of keeping women away from holy places for several weeks after giving birth.
Baby Showers in the Renaissance Era
While celebrations during the medieval period had a more religious nature, they gradually evolved into festivities of joy and decadence during the Renaissance. Baptisms were still highly regarded, but it was only during the Renaissance that mothers began to receive recognition. Mothers were pampered and showered with gifts during this period. It was quite common for a mother to receive a carved wooden tray, often containing a message with good wishes for her and her newborn child. The tray was often laden with treats for both the mother and child.
The Victorian Era
With the advent of the Victorian era, there was a revival of sorts, and the baby shower was celebrated in a new light. Although pregnant women were rarely seen in public, they had the luxury of being honored with tea parties in their honor. It was a time when women hesitated to publicly announce their pregnancies, and it was only whispered about in hushed tones.
This tradition persisted until the late 1800s and early 1900s when all baby celebrations had a festive character, with joy and fun taking center stage. It was also an opportunity to financially assist young families.
As society changed, the religious aspect of baby showers receded into the background, and the commercial focus took center stage.
Our Modern Baby Showers
Our modern form of the baby shower emerged in the 1940s in North America and is typically celebrated in the 7th month of pregnancy. The expectant mother's closest friends and family members play a significant role. The best part of today's celebrations is that expectant fathers are also increasingly in the spotlight.
While some still stick to traditional gifts like clothing and diapers, there are also thoughtful guests who give breast pumps, baby bouncers, and other essential items for the nursery. Others pamper expectant mothers with gifts like special spa treatments and massages. We've also compiled a list of wonderful items that both mom and baby are sure to appreciate.
The Blessingway is a healing ceremony rooted in Navajo tradition. Unlike a baby shower, the Blessingway is a highly spiritual and private ceremony designed to ward off misfortune, protect the home, and bless the pregnancy. The Blessingway is the central ceremony in a complex system of Navajo healing rituals that celebrate a woman's transition to motherhood. A modern Blessingway has become a popular alternative to the traditional baby shower.
During a Blessingway, the expectant mother's closest friends and family members gather in a circle and share with one another. Traditionally, it's a gathering exclusively for women, including the mother, sisters, aunts, daughters, best friends, mentors—all those valued by the mother.
A Blessingway helps the mother prepare emotionally, spiritually, and mentally for childbirth.
Most often, the expectant mother meets with the women towards the end of her pregnancy to gather positive energy for the upcoming birth. Many ceremonies are led by a midwife or doula but can also be planned and conducted by friends or family of the expectant mother. In addition to the spiritual elements, it's common to create birth necklaces, adorn the mother's belly with henna paintings, and offer shared foot, shoulder, and head massages. Cleaning the baby's room or nursery is also part of the ritual tradition to ensure a good start in life and in their new home for the newborn.
Together with the Love & Stone brand, we at Babybox have developed three great products for you to give as gifts for the Blessingway or birth. These will accompany a new mother along in her spiritual journey of being a mummy.