If a celebration has pagan origins, some people, for personal reasons, want to avoid it. Paganism refers to any belief that falls outside of the main religions and typically involves nature worship.
With that in mind, one of the more beautiful natural moments is a baby being born. But do baby showers have a pagan background? The answer is a definite “No”.
You will find that there are ancient traditions around childbirth. However, none of them are pagan (though pagans do have their own celebration).
The modern concept of the baby shower began in the USA in the mid-20th century. Here we will take you through a brief history of baby showers.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The links below may be affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.
Going back a few thousand years
Most cultures through time have had their rituals around childbirth through the ages.
Ancient Egypt practiced El Sooboo’ in the first week of the baby’s arrival. On the seventh day (believed to be when a child develops her or his hearing) songs and music were played.
The mother and her friends would take seven pots to wash in the Nile. This water would then be used to cleanse the mother’s house of any evil spirits.
Next, the mother and grandmother would visit the Nile with the baby. At this river, the grandmother would wet the infant’s head. Then a prayer is offered up to the gods for the child’s protection.
Noise was also made by the Greeks regarding birth. They would shout oloyge to let people know the child has just been born.
The mother and baby were then bathed after which they were isolated. This separation was for 10 days as mum and child were deemed impure.
On either the fifth or seventh day after the birth, the Amphidromia ritual was held. Guests (friends and family) would attend the celebration, which occurred in the evening.
A nurse would carry the baby around the hearth and who would then be introduced to the gods.
During this procession, the child received his or her name from the father. The mother was absent from the Amphidromia as she was still considered impure. Presents were given by the guests.
When the tenth day arrived, the mother was now free to leave her isolation. The ritual of dekate (the tenth day) saw the mother take her place back in society.
Close friends and relatives joined her for a meal. Then the mother would offer gifts to Eileithyia (the goddess of birth).
The ritual of Seemantham occurs mainly in the southern parts of India. The ceremony was held either in the 6th, 7th, or 8th month before the baby was born.
In this ceremony, the mother’s hair is parted above the eyebrows. It is said that at this location lives the goddess of wealth. Kumkum is applied to this spot so that the baby has a prosperous birth.
Indians say that from the seventh month of pregnancy, the fetus is responsive to sounds. So Vedic verses are read out to the unborn child.
The reading lasts for an hour and a half after which the mother is washed in cold water. The practice of reading the scriptures and cold water bath is believed to strengthen the child for its imminent birth.
There is an additional ceremony where the mother is decorated with bangles by the female family members.
In the two months before the birth, the mother is sent to live at her parents’ house.
Medieval Europe and Victorian England
During the medieval period of European history, there was a high chance that a mother would pass away during childbirth.
To ensure that the mother would have a clear way to go to Heaven, a priest would come during the labor so that the mother could be absolved of any sins she confessed.
After the birth, there was an immediate baptism for the baby. During this ceremony, the godparents would offer gifts.
In Renaissance times pregnancies were treated as something more mystical and blessed. Practical gifts such as food and clothing were given to the mother.
Also, the environment around the mother would be decorated with references to Jesus’ Annunciation.
The modern concept of baby showers
After World War 2, the baby shower changed into something more materialistic. The purpose was to ease the financial burden of the mother-to-be by providing her with gifts that set her up for her new life.
Games are played and the mother sits in a special seat. While sitting in her designated chair, the mother opens the gifts.
The whole concept behind the party was to prepare the mother for her new role as a caregiver.
A pagan baby shower
Pagans celebrate the new baby through prayers in which they call for the protection and blessings of the infant. Usually, this involves calling on the four cardinal points (North, South, East, and West) as well as the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water).
There is no set rule around baby showers for pagans. However, there is a similar theme that runs through all baby showers no matter what culture: getting together with the mother and providing her with gifts.
Pagans may have a naming ceremony several days after the birth.
Baby showers aren’t pagan
Each culture throughout history has celebrated childbirth. A new life is being brought into the family and world.
In some societies, there were a few days of isolation after the birth as baby and mother were deemed to be impure. Then they were accepted back into society with a party.
Some cultures dedicated the baby to the gods and asked for their protection and blessings. A similar tradition to the Christian baptism.
With pagans, they also have their own rituals to celebrate birth. But historically the concept of the baby shower doesn’t come from paganism.
That will be a relief for some women. That is because their personal belief doesn’t allow them to have a celebration with roots in paganism.
So, have your baby shower! Enjoy the time with your friends as you all bubble over with excitement about the baby.
You’re going to be a great mother.