Once upon a time, as little back as the 1980's and for centuries before that, it was a requirement of the Anglican Church and the law, that your intention to marry was publicly announced, so you had the banns read – which meant that your engagement was formerly announced during the service by the Vicar. Often these would also be published in the Newspaper or Church Notices. The birth of a new baby to a family would often also be announced, and publicised, but usually after the birth.
The birth of 8 children was foretold in the Bible before they happened and 7 of them God named. Names are very significant to God. But only 4 times in the Bible has a child's birth been foretold by an angel to the parents. Twice in the Old Testament and twice in the New Testament.
- In Genesis an Angel appeared to Hager, Sarah's servant girl and told her she was with child and that she was to name the baby Ishmael.
- In Judges – Samson's birth was announced by an Angel and instructions given but God didn't name him, the parents chose the name.
- In Luke – The birth of John the Baptist was announced to his father by an Angel as he served in the Temple, and he was told, he was to name him “John”.
- In Luke – Jesus birth was announced to his Mother, by the Archangel Gabriel, which is what we remember and read about today, and God named him.
The rest of the 8 were foretold and named by the Lord, the message delivered in person, on a couple of rare occasions, (Abraham told about Isaac, King David told about Solomon). The rest, not all of them even Jews, were foretold by Prophets. But at the time of the announcement of Jesus and of his cousin John the Baptist, there had been no prophets for 400 years. It was like God had fallen silent.
The nation of Israel was living under the heel of the Roman Empire, although Rome officially saw them as an ally at this point, it was a difficult situation for the Jewish rulers – balancing on a tightrope over a deep chasm, trying to play the neutral ally and fearful of those with conquest in mind. It was a dangerous sort of time to be born as a coming King. God had already sent prophets to 'read the bans' he announced it from the rooftops and sounded it at the gates hundreds of years in advance, and you will see what I mean about names being important.
Then when the time came God quietly sent angels. God keeps his promises, and I believe he still quietly sends angels when we pray.