Bridal shower is a common event (or custom) that usually precedes the wedding. A lot of brides look forward to this event, but hardly do they know or care about the origin of bridal showers.
The truth has a tendency to change a lot of things, and in this case, we might witness less of bridal showers or have brides celebrate it with more pride and appreciation. You can choose where you belong at the end of this piece.
Before we look into the origin of bridal showers, let’s define what it is.
According to Wiki, “A bridal shower is a gift-giving party held for a bride-to-be in anticipation of her wedding.”, another person thinks that “A bridal shower party is a perfect occasion to indulge the bride and shower her with favors.” and this other person says “It is a pleasant and sensible way for friends and acquaintances to present gifts that would seem too trifling if they were presented singly.” However else you want to define it, you can’t skip the fact that it is a gift-giving event – for the bride.
Here is where my head begins to spin.
Why give gifts to a bride before her actual wedding, when you will still do that at the wedding? Why are we giving the gifts to the bride without including the groom? Well, there is a groom shower event too. More on that in subsequent weeks. For now, my curiosity got me digging deep into what brought about the origin of bridal showers. So here is what I found:
Wiki tells us that the origin of bridal showers can be traced back to the 1890s. It is most common in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand today. You can start adding Nigeria to that list.
We are also told that men are typically not allowed at these functions. But recently more men have been attending. (what are they looking for? They have groom showers after all!).
The custom of the bridal shower is said to have grown out of earlier dowry practices, when a poor woman’s family might not have the money to provide a dowry for her, or when a father refused to give his daughter her dowry because he did not approve of the marriage. In such situations, friends of the woman would gather together and bring gifts that would compensate for the dowry and allow her to marry the man of her choice.
I hope you are still following? Here is a story by missabigail.com that also tells a lot about the origin of bridal showers:
Many, many years ago a beautiful young Dutch maiden gave her heart to the village miller who was so good to the poor and the needy that he himself had but few worldly goods. He gave his bread and his flour free to those who could not pay, and because of his goodness everyone loved him. Everyone but the girl’s father. She must not marry him, he said. She must marry the man he had selected ~ a fat, horrid, wealthy man with a farm and a hundred pigs! ~ or she would lose her dowry.
The miller was sad, and the girl wept on his shoulder. The people who had eaten of the good miller’s bread were sad, too. Couldn’t something be done about it? Couldn’t they give the girl a dowry so that she could marry their kind miller and make him happy? They didn’t have much money, it is true, but each one thought of a gift that he or she could contribute.
And they came to the girl in a gay procession: one with an old Dutch vase; one with some fine blue plates for the kitchen shelf; one with strong linens made on the hand looms at home; and one with a great shiny pot. They showered her with gifts and gave her a finer dowry than ever her father could! There was a solemn wedding ceremony and a jolly wedding feast, and even the father came at last to wish them happiness.
A good many years later, an Englishwoman heard of a friend who was about to be married and decided that the only gift she could afford was too slight an expression of her good wishes. Remembering the story of the Dutch ‘shower’ and knowing that there were other friends who felt precisely as she did, she called them together and suggested that they present their gifts all at the same time. The ‘shower’ that they gave was so successful that fashionable society adopted the custom, and it has remained ever since.
A lot of has changed about bridal showers today. The event is no longer connected to the payment of dowry, but as a platform to shower gifts upon the bride-to-be, by her friends.
Did you also notice that the story tells us that women historically paid dowry to men. What changed? When did it change? Why are men the ones paying dowry now…in Nigeria? Story for another day. lol.