Q: Americans stationed in Italy might have noticed pink or blue ribbons tied around just about anything on homes, vehicles or even businesses. What’s up with that?

A: In the States, expectant mothers often have baby showers, where friends gather to provide gifts for the mom-to-be or her newborn. That’s not traditionally done in Italy. Some people attribute that to superstition or a carryover from many years ago before modern birthing techniques were perfected. Others say that baby showers just aren’t a part of Italian culture.

Regardless, Italian families with new additions often display the good news by putting up ribbons, flowers or similar displays outside their homes. Sometimes, there’s also a ribbon or display set up where the new mother works. All are designed to let friends and neighbors know about the birth, allowing them to bring by a gift or at least share their happiness with the new parents.

Baby clothes or toys are generally good gift choices, especially for first-time parents.

Not surprisingly, pink represents a female child and blue a male one. The displays could stay up for several weeks before they’re removed.

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