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Baby Customs, Traditions and Rituals from Around the World
When a baby is born, there are various traditions, customs, or rituals families participate in depending on their culture or country of origin. In the United States, for example, it’s customary to visit the new parents and baby and bring already-cooked meals so that parents have one less thing to worry about as they care for their newborn. What about other cultures? How do they celebrate the birth of a baby? I asked around and learned about several baby traditions from around the world, including customs celebrated in Trinidad and Puerto Rico, where my husband and I are from.
Growing up in a Puerto Rican family, I always saw newborn babies wearing a bracelet with a black charm in the shape of a fist. I later learned it is called mano de azabache and is meant to ward off evil and bring good luck to the baby. Many people provide new parents with this bracelet for their baby.
Trinidad and Tobago
I asked around to learn about some of the baby traditions in Trinidad, where my husband and his family are from. @SammyTAlexander mentioned that when people visit newborn babies, they usually put money into the baby’s hand. I immediately remembered that my mother-in-law had actually done this when she first met our baby boy! Apparently, it is meant to bring prosperity and good blessings to the newborn. Another custom I learned about from @bytesdog is that some parents do not allow people to come in their house after 6 pm, since the evening dew will make baby sick.
Silvia Martinez of Mamá Latina Tips shared that in many families in Mexico, the women of the family – grandmothers, aunts, sisters – nurture and take care of the new mom for 40 days after the birth of a baby. These women help with the cleaning, cooking and older kids. The new mom’s only job is taking care of the new baby.
“An old time tradition here in The Bahamas is burying the navel string of the newborn in the yard,” said Michelle G. Roper of Sapphire Ridge Chronicles. “It is believed that you will always find your way back home no matter how far you may travel. Another tradition is to tie a black ribbon on the wrist of the newborn for several weeks to ward off evil spirits.”
“In Brazil, a typical tradition is that the expectant mother prepares a basket with souvenirs that are given to each person that comes to the hospital to visit when the baby is born. These souvenirs usually match the chosen theme that has been picked for the baby’s nursery. Some of the most often used souvenirs are refrigerator magnets, customized notepads, sachets and even tiny bottles of perfume. Most of the time there’s a tiny message saying the baby’s name is thanking them for visiting. They are much like favors that are prepared for baby showers, only they are given to those who visit at the hospital,” shared Eren Mckay of Embracing Home.
Faiqa Khan of Native Born provided some insight into customs of Muslim families: “Soon after their birth, the heads of newborns born into Muslim families are shaved within their first month. The hair that has been removed is then weighed and the equivalent of the weight in silver is given to charity. For families, this tradition is extremely important as it signifies the inclusion of the child into the community as well as a reminder to always keep those in need in mind. Because Muslims live in all parts of the world, this is a custom practiced everywhere from Pakistan to France and in the U.S., as well.”
Susan Carraretto from 5 Minutes for Mom told me about similar traditions in Canada to those here in the U.S., including decorating a nursery ahead of the delivery and friends or family hosting a baby shower for the parents. She mentioned that traditionally, only women attend the baby shower, but that recently some men like to get involved in the celebration as well.
What additional baby traditions do you know about from other parts of the world? Share yours with us!
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