When I studied in Finland a decade ago now, a Finnish friend of mine was expecting her first child. I remember one day she received a maternity package in the mail. It was an eagerly-awaited milestone for her, but completely new to this American. It amazed me then, though I was a young college student. And it amazes me even more now that I'm a mom:Finland's tradition of sending expectant mothers a boxful of baby goods to get them started reaches back to the 1930's. It still exists today, and you can take a detailed look at the contents of the 2011 box right here. From Kela, the government office that issues the boxes (or a 140-euro grant - the mother's choice): "The maternity package contains clothes for the baby and other useful items such as bodysuits, romper suits, leggings and overalls, blanket, cover, towel, sleeping bag, mattress, hairbrush, nail scissors, picture book. The contents of the package changes every year."
The difference in design of each year's contents forms a bond that bridges across the country for children of the same age. We love the nature of such a gift from the government and even then - before I knew that raising a child really does take a village - I was awestruck and touched by such a warm, caring gesture given to all mothers of that nation.
Read more about Finland's baby boxes from Michele Simeon, an American mom living in Finland, in her guest post at Mothering.com.
What do you think of the maternity package idea? And don't you just love the contents? The items are all so simple and timeless - a true treasure to be cherished in heart and hands.
Images: Annika Söderblom for Kela