Although the modern idea of the baby shower is based mostly on North American practices, there are customs and traditions from all over the world which celebrate the birth of a new baby and are also designed to help out the parents as well. Although they're quite a bit different from what we're used to, the end result is the same: it's all designed to welcome a new life into the world.
In most cultures, the celebration of new life is done after the birth and not before, mostly because of a chance of a miscarriage. It's both rooted in superstition as well as practical.
For example in Afghanistan, the baby shower is held six days after the child is born. The home is filled with friends and family out to congratulate the parents and ogle the new baby. Congratulations are in order for the grandparents as well.
Presents are given to the baby and these are usually gender-specific because the sex is already known. Everyone parties most of the night away with great food and a big celebration. It's a wonderful way to welcome a new life.
The Dominican Republic is well-known for their celebrations, and baby showers are not an exception to this rule. The main difference with North American baby showers is that these are usually couple showers and there is a lot of dancing involved.
This surprise celebration for the mommy-to-be starts off with a fun game which breaks the ice and makes the party a lot more fun. After prizes are awarded all around, the gifts are opened and admired. A fun gift for the daddy-to-be is a “hat” made of all the ribbons and bows that decorated the gifts. Of course, daddy-to-be has to wear it all night long, which adds to the gaiety of the night.
It's not a Latino party without too much food and plenty of dancing plus lots of music. The party only ends when everybody is tired out. Apart from the favors, a few packages filled with the excess food is a usual parting gift for each of the guests.
Most Asian countries celebrate new life after the birth, with a notable exception in India. The family gets together in the seventh month of the mommy-to-be's pregnancy to have a big party. During the ceremony, prayers are said for the mommy-to-be and the baby for them to have a safe delivery and good health.
It's bad luck, though to buy gifts for the baby so money is usually given to the parents-to-be. Another tradition that takes place at this celebration is the bangle ceremony. All the women present put bangles on the mommy-to-be's arms as a form of blessing. It used to be that the bangles weren't taken off until the labor pains started. Then, she would take them off one at a time so that she could distract herself while the contractions went on.
Japan is one culture that has many superstitions regarding pregnancy so it's more usual to wait until after the child is born to celebrate. About a month or so after the birth, visitors arrive with gifts for the baby although money in the amount of ten thousand yen is considered a traditional gift. It's not taboo to give gifts before the birth, though, as long as they are dog-themed ones. Dogs are supposedly helpful when it comes to deliveries since they normally have very easy and safe ones.