How Senegalese Baby Showers are Different

Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve had friends worldwide celebrating the birth of a new baby. I love seeing the pictures, but still, it’s made me a bit homesick. 

I’ve also been reflecting on the experiences of my friends based on the country in which they gave birth, and as you might guess, it’s a very different experience in some places. If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you probably know that Senegalese people love to celebrate, and baby showers are no different. 

Having a baby in Senegal is a huge deal – if it’s not the biggest event of a young woman’s life, it’s a close second. Giving birth is mentally, physically and emotionally taxing, so the idea is to celebrate a woman to the fullest after she gives birth.

Seven days after a woman delivers her baby, her family hosts a party called a “gante”. It’s often a bigger event than even a wedding, and all of your friends and family come. Families go all out, and the new mom is lavished with gifts.

The biggest difference between a baby shower in the United States and one in Senegal is that while both are celebrations, American celebrations are baby-centric, while Senegalese celebrations are focused on the mother. Gifts are for the mom and include clothes, fabric, jewelry – all of the things a new mom would need to feel her best. 

The day of the shower, there’s a spiritual ceremony where the baby is named. The mother has her hair, makeup and nails done, and she has a number of outfit changes. A musician comes to sing and play the drums. They even make up songs about the woman. It’s fun, memorable and simply amazing.

Being a woman has never been easy so any ceremony that honors and celebrates them is a yes for us.

 Photographer: Joey Rosado