Here is a question from one of our readers:
I found your blog looking for Greek traditions, and I hope you can help me. I’m writing an article for the New York Times about post-baby gifts, and a Greek friend told me that it’s traditional for Greek mothers to receive gold, as a blessing. Do you know if that’s accurate, or do you have any insights into gifts that are traditionally given when a new baby arrives?
Here is my response:
Greek Families Give Gold As A Gift To Newlywed Couples
Gold is a gift that is given at special celebrations. This will often happen at engagement parties and at weddings. Close family members (parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters) will give the bride and groom a piece of gold jewellery.
Gold Gifts For Babies
When a baby is born, close family members (such as the grandparents) may give the child a gift of gold. Sometimes this will be a gold pin with a mati or a pillow on it. Sometimes it is a traditional gold coin (a Greek Gold Sovereign) and sometimes it is a piece of jewellery like a gold bracelets.
There is also a tradition that husband must give his wife an eternity ring when she has given birth to her first baby or at the first wedding anniversary (whichever comes first). An eternity ring is the 3rd ring that sits on the wedding finger next to the engagement ring and the wedding ring.
Husbands May Give Wives A “Push Present”
I have heard many stories of husbands giving a gift of gold to his wife when she gives birth to their child. However i don’t think that this is a “Greek” custom specifically. Many of my non-Greek girlfriends have received jewellery from their partner when they had a baby. It is called commonly known as a “push present”.
Many of our readers on Facebook have kindly offered their advice:
- Both my girls received a gold safety pin with a “mati icon” and their saint name in the form of a small medallion. In theory you pin in to the baby (we did it on the back shoulder) whenever you leave the house for protection from the evil eye as mentioned from Christine Duckhouse. From memory this was to be done beofre your baby was christened. This jewelry was given form a grandparent only in our case. I personally didn’t not receive any gold.
- Traditionally most greeks give a monetary gift for pretty much all occasions, birth, marriage, christening, birthday. (And if you are very close to the family or person they even give money st funerals either to be donated to charity, the church or to help with funeral costs).
- My family gives a silver dollar of the birth year and we place under the babies mattress. All my kids are sleeping on them till this day. Also we give filaxta and an icon. We give lires (gold coins too) but we didn’t receive ours till we got married and my parents put them in jewelry for us. So for my sons we made them into medallion pins for when they get married.
- I know from the where my parents are from it’s monetary usually a gold coin for strength and then larger amount for riches/wealth.
- I’m Lebanese Christian, when the baby born if it’s a boy they will give him a gold pin with the cross on it and if it’s a girl a pair of gold earrings also the dad has to give something for the mom and most of the time a gold cross
- From Karpathos, Greece, and the immediate family usually gifts the baby gold .
- Depends on the part of greece your from. Each place has different traditions.
- Babies were given items of gold to stop them from being “jinxed” by the evil eye, presumably because it was one of the gifts of the 3 Kings to Jesus. I’ve not heard of mothers being given the same gift traditionally.
Do you know of any other Greek traditions for mother’s and their new babies?
Please share in the comments below.
The Baby Pins that have been featured in this post are available to purchase from the Greek Wedding Shop:
- Baby Boy Pins
- Baby Girl Pins
- Unisex Baby Pins
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