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Baby Shower History

Throughout history and amongst all cultures and religions, major life events have been marked by both traditional and informal customs. There is some evidence, although nothing definitive, that the arrival of a new baby has been celebrated since the time of ancient Egypt.

The Victorian baby shower was the grandmother of today's modern showers. In the Victorian times of the late 1800s, ladies would organize afternoon tea parties for new mothers. At that time only wealthy families held these celebrations, the celebration was held after the child was born and was only attended by ladies. Gifts to the new mother were generally handmade.

By the early 20th century, the baby shower was born. Modelled after bridal showers, the tea parties of the late 19th century developed into more traditional and baby focused tea parties. These parties too were celebrated only by wealthy families after the child was born, and attended by women only. As many ladies would carry sun umbrellas to afternoon tea, the sun umbrella became forever associated with baby showers.

Baby showers as we know them today grew in popularity during the baby boom of post World War II United States. At that point they became parties celebrated prior to the arrival of the baby. Close friends and family of the mom-to-be were invited to shower her with useful gifts for the new baby. As parenting was still seen as the mother's role, these parties were still only attended by women. Generally a shower was only thrown for the first born child.

Today baby showers are customary and take on all sorts of forms from the most informal to a catered party at a country club or restaurant. They may be celebrated for a first child or a fourth. Men and children are generally invited. Gifts may be personal, useful or light-hearted and party games are the norm.