Before you conclude that this text is going to talk about washing babies, stop making such a conclusion. Baby shower is defined ”a party for a woman who is going to have a baby”.
This is the harshest and least detailed definition of the custom. In some parts of the world, these parties are organized before the baby is born and in other parts it is thrown after the birth. It is also very interesting that the timing for the baby shower largely depends on the religion that dominated the given region or country. Also, it is amazing that the baby shower, in one form or another, exists in almost every corner of the world. It is incredible how the same tradition has developed in parts that are so different that they have never even heard of each other, but still have this cultural (not physical, but socially conditioned) custom.
The reason for organizing these events is wishing the about-to-give-birth mother a kind of support, encouragement and financial support. People usually buy diapers, baby's clothes and other items that are going to help mum in the first few months of baby's life. Apart from that, we also attend a baby shower, because we expect that the people who invited us will come to our baby shower, as well. It is some sort of a mutual approach to social relations.
The word wash is inevitably connected with christening, which is how the term was most probably coined. Of course, other religions also have their own ways of baptism or initiation, but still preserve some form of the baby shower custom. In Ireland, for example, the wedding couple cuts a slice of the wedding cake and freeze it. When their baby is born, the tradition is that they cut the slice into very small pieces and then sprinkle them onto the child's forehead during the christening ceremony. It is a form of the Irish Catholic tradition and these cake sprinkles symbolize the never-ending progression of life.(source)
As it has already been said, countries do not have any strict borders when it comes to the baby shower customs. On Bali, for example, which is part of Indonesia, the custom is that a newborn baby does not touch the ground with his or her feet until they are 105 days old. On the 105th day, parents are allowed to put the baby on the ground and hold it to feel the ground with his or her feet. To celebrate that day, parents gather their friends and family and mark the beginning of the children's life on the ground.
Russia, which is spread both in Europe and in Asia, does not have any specific baby shower ceremonies. If you are a friend of the family or a relative, you can give presents to pregnant women or after the birth, whenever it is suitable for you and the parents. Also, women do not expect from men to take too much part in the pregnancy period. However, there is one celebration when all close people are summoned and that is christening, which then carries the role of baby shower custom, as well.
No matter what part of the world you live in, you will definitely be introduced to some kind of baby shower tradition. Just be relaxed and show this proud mother how proud of her you are and how beautiful her baby is.