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Friday, May 30, 2014

Why Are Wedding and Baby Showers Called "Showers"?

“Why are wedding showers and baby showers called ‘showers’?”

It’s a good question. We couldn’t find a definitive answer in either R. Brasch’s “How Did It Begin?” or William S. Walsh’s “Curiosities of Popular Customs.” However, we’ve always heard the explanation that showers are so-called because the guest-of-honor is “showered” with gifts. Several websites second the theory, including (It also gives the legend for the origin of the bridal shower: when a bride’s father withheld her dowry because he didn’t approve of her husband-to-be, her friends stepped in to provide her with everything she needed to start her new home.)

The shower of gifts may also have been a literal one -- Beth Montemurro’s “Something Old, Something Bold” mentions the Victorian bridal shower custom of placing small gifts inside a parasol, which would rain down on the bride-to-be-when opened.

Baby showers seem to have taken their name from bridal showers. While celebrating the birth of a baby is a long-held tradition in many cultures, referring to it as a shower seems to be relatively recent.

For anyone looking to throw either a baby shower or a bridal shower, Becky Long’s “Themed Baby Showers,” Courtney Cooke’s “The Best Baby Shower Book,” and Michelle Adams and Gia Russo’s “Wedding Showers” are available here at the Newton Falls Public Library. 

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