The modern bridal shower may trace its origins the 1890s.
“The Old Farmer’s Almanac” says the first bridal shower hostess filled a paper parasol with small presents and turned it over the head of the bride-to-be.
Soon the concept caught on, and many other women began “showering” future brides in such a manner. Naturally, as presents became larger and heavier, the tradition of literally showering the bride with gifts was modified — but the name has stuck.
Bridal showers are designed to equip couples with many of the necessities to start their new life together. This custom is believed to have evolved from an old dowry system, in which a bride was expected to bring valuables to the marriage. The dowry was originally intended as compensation for the burden of supporting a wife placed on the groom.
Some parents of the bride were not rich enough to afford an ample dowry, so friends and family members would offer small gifts to help offset this financial responsibility.
Today, both the bride and groom are equal partners in the marriage, bringing together their collective wealth. However, showers are still held regardless of the financial need of the bride as a way to offer good wishes before she embarks on her new journey.