Why Is It Called A Baby Shower

Why Is It Called a Baby Shower?

The name ‘baby shower’ seems so intuitive, it’s hard to imagine it having ever been anything other than what it is today: a celebration of a soon-to-be born infant. But if you’ve ever wondered why this joyful affair is specifically referred to as a ‘shower’, then you may be surprised to discover the sometimes unexpected origin story behind this special occasion.

A Ritual for Welcoming a Baby Into the World

The modern-day baby shower is now synonymous with preparation and celebration—just think of the abundance of food, the nerdy-cute card games, and the ubiquity of blue and pink balloons. Now, this is a far cry from the origin of the ‘baby shower’ the name of which actually paid homage to an ancient springtime custom which was believed to bring fertility and good luck to the expectant family.

This so-called ‘springtime reorganization’ existed and flourished in many cultures from Ancient Rome to Medieval France. During this special season of the year, it was believed that lavishing gifts upon a mother-to-be would bring about a safe delivery as well as a prosperous life for her and her baby.

A Continual Evolution Towards What We Have Today

The practice of coming together to honor an expecting mother did not disappear from Europe until after the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the middle class. Once this happened, the event and the way it expressed itself changed characteristically. It evolved from a natural, ritual event to a modern-day celebration of newborn babies.

This transformation saw the practice move away from its rural roots in the home and into a more public and commercially festive setting, becoming a semi-formal affair hosted outside the family’s respective home. It was around this same time that the ‘shower’ moniker arose, where it was first referenced in written form by Emily Post’s 1922 book, entitled ‘Etiquette’, where she declared:

“A ‘shower’ is given for the prospective mother…”

It is this description that appeared in one of the most influential books of etiquette of the 20th century, resulted in the phrase ‘baby shower’ becoming permanent in the minds of American families—the same phrase that we know and use today.

From Ancient Traditions to Modern Celebrations, the Why Behind ‘Baby Showers’ Remains

However it’s interesting to note that the purpose and intention of a baby shower hasn’t changed that much from its roots. Even if the reason for hosting it has become social and commercial, the underlying idea is the same: A ‘shower’ is held to give blessings and good vibes to expectant families, to ensure a healthy and prosperous life for the mother and child. In many cultures the event even still takes place during springtime to signify the season of fertility and growth.

Why is it called a baby shower? Essentially, because it’s so much more than just a chance to celebrate the pending arrival of a new addition to your family. It is an ancient and powerful tradition that, while having evolved with the times, has nonetheless been maintained from generation to generation and continues to symbolize the life-affirming creative energy of new life. So the next time you attend a baby shower revel in the moment, knowing the event’s name holds a legacy of customs and traditions dating back thousands of years.