The bridal shower ideas date back to the dowry-prevalent period. A Dutch folklore based on the dowry system proposes the idea of showering the bride and the groom with gifts to help them start their new life together. There was a young girl who fell in love with a poor but kind-hearted hence popular, miller. Her father did not approve of this union and withheld her dowry. When the villagers learnt of this situation, they ‘showered’ the couple with gifts and helped them start their new life. Hence the term bridal ‘shower’ is used.
In the 1890s, it is said that friends and family of the bride would gather together, put their gifts in a parasol or umbrella and open it over the bride's head. Hence, the name bridal ‘shower’. This was generally a surprise to the bride. The bridal shower is a traditionally important custom in many cultures, and is significant for the bride and the groom.
The origin of bridal shower comes from an old tradition of 'giving' the bride away to her husband. The gift-giving was mainly to assure her comforts and luxuries in her married life. It was usually celebrated by women in the neighborhood, friends and families of the couple. The list of the gifts generally included the traditional wedding gifts that prove to be useful for her to start a new life in a new way. For e.g. kitchenware, bedroom appliances etc were gifted which emphasize the bride’s new role as a wife, a homemaker and a sexual partner to her man.
Though the custom is believed to have originated in the USA, Belgium also had practices similar to the bridal shower in the 1860s. Now-a-days, it is celebrated widely and has turned into a get together often organized by the family members in order to spend some quality time with the bride.