Spanish Baby Traditions
Traditionally speaking, Catholic families are known for having large families. This was no exception in Spain a generation or two ago. However, in recent decades this tradition has been slowly disappearing. Now, Spaniards are opting to have one or maybe two children. Nevertheless, the excitement surrounding the arrival of a new baby has not diminished.
As with many European countries, baby showers are not a rarity in Spain anymore. The growing popularity of baby showers is due in large part to Hollywood; most women are familiar with Miranda’s baby shower in Sex & the City or Jennifer Lopez’s infamous and opulent baby shower for her first child.
Spaniards now celebrate the arrival of a new baby much in the same way as Americans. About one month before the baby is expected, a group the expectant mother’s closest female friends and family members gather at her house and celebrate the eagerly anticipated arrival of her child. The guests always bring gifts for the mother and child. Usually the mother-in-law, sister or close friend of the expectant mother organizes the party and takes care of all the details so that the mother can relax.
Whoever decides to take charge of this important task sends out invitations or calls all of the guests to inform them of the shower. During the shower, gifts are opened and lighthearted games are played. There’s always food available, oftentimes just a few snacks and drinks. Some people prefer to have the event catered, while others like to keep the atmosphere more intimate and personal by making the food themselves.
One of the most important parts of planning a baby shower is decorating the house. The decorations are usually fun and imaginative. At the end of the party the guests get a little trinket to remember the party and to say thanks. Sometimes an ultrasound photograph of the baby is given out.
Once the baby is born, it’s the proud father’s responsibility to call up close family members and friends to deliver the joyous news. Nowadays, nearly all births in Spain take place in a hospital, but it’s best to visit the baby after it has already been brought home. However, friends and family who visit at the hospital generally bring a gift for the child. Most people do not visit the baby while it’s still in the hospital, but choose to send flowers to the new mother or a congratulatory note.
After the baby is home, even more celebrations take place. The mother often invites people over for an afternoon snack, known as a merienda. The gentlemen usually go out for a round of drinks at a local bar. At these functions it is considered rude to be critical of the child’s size, hair, weight and so on.
Young couples tend to send out a hand written card or photo of the child to friends and relatives to share the good news. In the past, the tradition of announcing the baby’s arrival in the local paper was very popular, but hardly anyone does it anymore.
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