Bringing a new life into the world can be one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable and often represents the most memorable experience of a person’s life. For many, it symbolises the beginning of a whole new chapter in their lives. Like many of life’s significant milestones, the birth of a child is often subject to a wide range of traditions and customs. When it comes to welcoming newborn babies into the world, the United Kingdom is no exception.
In the UK, one of the most enduring ceremonial quirks is crossing the baby’s palm with silver. As is typically the case with traditions, there is also a deeper meaning behind this age-old custom.
Throughout history, crossing the palm of a newborn baby with silver was also seen as a way to wish them wealth and good health throughout their life. In addition to the celebratory element, crossing the baby’s palm with silver was seen as a customary way to wish a new baby the best possible start in life.
The act itself would traditionally see a silver coin placed in the baby’s hand to quite literally cross their palm with silver. It was believed that, should the baby keep hold of the coin, it would be economical in its adult years. Conversely, if the baby dropped the coin, the child would go on to be more frivolous with its spending.
The act of gifting a newborn with a silver coin was common and wasn’t just restricted to the immediate family. In fact, it wasn’t unusual for this practice to occur on the street when a stranger would spot a mother pushing a newborn baby in a pram.
Gifting a child with silver was often also logically referred to as ‘silvering the baby’, particularly in Celtic countries; however, in Scotland, it is also commonly known as ‘Hanselling’. Meanwhile, in Ireland, the custom has been slightly adapted and commonly involves a 50p piece.
This tradition of presenting a newborn child with silver is one that lives on to this day. As such, giving a silver gift to mark the arrival of a new baby is now widely accepted and is generally considered to be a fitting keepsake.
A thoughtful memento that’s both traditional and meaningful, a silver coin or trinket can be the ideal gift for an expectant parent or newborn child, serving as the perfect present for a baby shower, christening or the birth itself.