Thursday Thoughts

Worldwide Birth Traditions

Each week, as part of our Thursday Thoughts series of blogs, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the weird & wonderful traditions from around the world, paying particular attention to the milestones of life.  Last week we shone the spotlight on the UK and the customs & traditions associated with welcoming a new baby into the world.  This week, we’re going to extend our gaze out across the world to see what other countries get up to at the birth of a bundle of joy! 

Germany:  Over in Germany it is believed that the baby’s name is linked to the child’s personality as it grows.  There is a list of registered names for newborns from which the parents can chose. The name cannot be objects or random words and must reflect the baby’s gender. The parents can submit a reason for using a name that is not on the list but it may be rejected!

China:  In China, celebrations are held four weeks after the birth of the baby during which the extended family are presented with gifts of red eggs, a representation of fertility and the circle of life. Traditionally red is the colour of good luck in China and red envelopes containing money are given to the baby. A second celebration takes place when the baby is 100 days old during which the baby is dressed in red and introduced to all the family friends and colleagues who again present the baby with red envelopes containing money.

Brazil:  Down in Brazil the mother of the newborn gives out handmade gifts and sweets to the visitors who in return bring the baby red booties as they are thought to protect the baby’s health.   

Nigeria:  Nigerian newborns are bathed for the first time by their paternal grandmother.  Using a natural sponge, the baby’s skin is cleaned with palm oil.  This procedure is believed to give the baby a good start in life. The baby’s arms are then bent backwards to ensure flexibility and to prevent stiffness in later life.

Bali:  Here, burying the placenta is an important tradition as it is believed that it is alive, like a twin to the newborn.  Having been cleaned up, sealed in a container and wrapped in a white cloth, it is then buried outside the family home during a ceremony. In Bali, they believe babies come straight from heaven and are treated as if they are Gods.  For the first 210 days of life the baby’s feet cannot touch the ground.   

Japan:  After leaving the hospital, mother and baby will stay at the mother’s parents’ home for a month or more. It is a cultural tradition that women stay in bed for 21 days after the birth while friends and family visit an eat celebratory food, Osekihan.

Spain:  Once the baby has been brought home from the hospital the mother will invite visitors over for an afternoon snack, known as a merienda. The menfolk will head out for a few drinks at a bar.  No one is to criticise the baby in anyway as it is considered rude (which you would think is considered so in most countries).

USA:  Here baby showers are hugely popular.  Baby showers involve groups of ladies meeting with the expectant mother and ‘showering’ her with gifts for the unborn child. Other countries such as the UK sometimes follow this trend but it is not a tradition as such.  Also in the US, a white blanket with pink and blue stripes, known as a ‘KuddleUp,’ is used in the hospital. These have been so for 60 years or more.

Where would you most like to give birth?  For us, we reckon the Japanese have got the idea!! 

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