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Mother’s Day in the Middle East: Why it’s celebrated on March 21

In the MENA region, Mother’s Day is celebrated on March 21st. This day, however, has a long history that dates back to Ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians held an annual festival to celebrate Isis, a goddess who represented the perfect idea for motherhood, new life and fertility. But as those traditions faded, the origins of Mother’s day in the Arab world can be traced back to Egypt in 1943 where it was set in motion by journalist Mustafa Amin. The celebration has since been mirrored by other Arab countries. Unfortunately, Amin’s idea was overlooked the first time it was introduced in his book “Smiling America”. Years later, in order to establish the holiday and gain the sympathy of the public, Amin connected an anecdotal story of a widowed mother, who devoted her life to raising her son to become a doctor, and when he did years after he got married and started his own life, he showed no gratitude to his mother. 

Amin sent an official request to the government and began campaigning for recognition. By word of mouth and persistence, the story of the widowed mother reached the masses and was used to promote the holiday until the idea was accepted by president Gamal Abdel Nasser; 10 years after its introduction. Similarly to Ancient Egyptian celebration of women, life and renewal, It was decided that it would be on the first day of Spring. Spring represents the season of blossom, and thus motherhood, and where flowers bloom, new life followsThe first celebration of Mother’s day in Egypt took place on March 21, 1956, and the rest of the Arab world followed suit.

With women at the center, children shower their mothers with gifts, cards, flowers and remind them of their love. Similarly to the story that spearheaded the holiday, it’s important to celebrate and show appreciation to our own mothers and to all the strong women in our lives. Make sure to thank your mama today for everything she’s done for you and your family. Too often their sacrifices and all they do for their families go unnoticed and unappreciated. Where would we be today without her Tabeekh (homemade cooking), tough love and motivation. 

Happy Arab Mother's Day! Don't forget to forward a Whatsapp rose graphic to your mama. 

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