In many western countries, particularly in the US, UK and Australia, holding a baby shower is one of the most popular ways to celebrate an impending or new arrival. While this may be the norm for us, other countries have some weird and wonderful traditions to welcome newborns into the world. From the practical to the decidedly odd, we found some fascinating customs from across the globe.
Image: Annika Söderblom © Kela.
In Finland, expectant mothers are given a maternity package from the government. This tradition, dating back to the 1930s, has said to help Finland reduce its infant mortality rate from almost 90 infant deaths per 1000 births in 1940 to fewer than 5 deaths per 1000 births by 2000. The gift box includes newborn essentials such as bodysuits, wash cloths and muslin squares, and the box—which comes with a small mattress and cover—itself can be used as a safe place for baby to sleep. This practical starter kit is available to all mothers, regardless of income or social status. What an amazing gift to receive as new parents!
In China, it is customary to celebrate a baby turning one month old—and the end of the new mum’s confinement period—by holding what’s called a “full moon” or “full month” ceremony. This is often the first chance friends and extended family members get to meet the new arrival and give their blessings and gifts.
Other traditions that may be observed include:
- Shaving the newborn's head, or trimming a small amount of hair to symbolise shedding of the "womb hair".
- Dressing the baby in gold clothing and "presenting" him to his/her ancestors at the family altar.
- Accepting red packets and jewellery as gifts for the baby.
In Bali, a Nyabutan Ceremony signifies the first time a newborn's feet can touch the ground, usually when the baby turns 3 months old. Up until this time, the bundle of joy is to be held in someone's arms. The Balinese believe that the first few months are sacred and that to preserve a baby's connection to spirit, their feet must remain off the ground.
Another tradition observed by many Balinese families is the 42 days old blessing, which honours, names and welcomes a baby into the family. During this significant celebration, objects that have been blessed are placed in a basket for the baby to choose from. Depending on what he/she reaches for, this determines the child's future and potential occupation.
According to Bulgarian legend, if a child is overly adored or praised, the devil would attempt to steal it through jealousy and rage. To create the illusion of the child being undesirable, older women who come to visit the newborn would pretend to spit in its eye and recite the phrase, "may the hens poop in your eye".
Much less bizarre is the traditional gift presented to a newborn on or after the 40th day—a gold, silver or amber cross.
So, there you have it. Four very different but equally intriguing ways to celebrate a newborn. If you're not overly keen about pretending to spit in a baby's eye, why not stick with a more conventional (and more practical) gift set from our premium collection.
Have you come across any other interesting or strange traditions? Let us know in the comments.