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Arab World Celebrates Mother’s Day on March 21st

posted on: Mar 18, 2020

By: Tasnim Elnasharty/Arab America Contributing Writer 

Mother’s day is an international date honoring mothers and their influence on society. Mother’s day in most countries in the Arab world is celebrated on March 21, the first day of spring – commonly regarded at the moment the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the sun’s disk. These include Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iraq,  Lebanon, Qatar, Syria, Libya, and others.

Egypt is one of the Arab countries that most pay attention to celebrations and events. Thus, Egypt was the first Arab country to introduce the idea of Mother’s day to the Arab world.

History beyond why Arabs celebrate Mother’s Day on March 21

The origins of Mother’s day in the Arab world can be traced back to Egypt in 1957 where it was introduced by journalist Mustafa Amin. The practice has since been mirrored by other Arab countries. Unfortunately, Amin’s idea was overlooked at that time. But Amin didn’t leave his attempts to establish the holiday and connected it with the story of a widowed mother, who devoted her life to raising her son until he becomes a doctor. The son then married and showed no gratitude to his mother.

This story motivated Amin to promote the holiday until the idea was accepted by president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Amin mentioned Mother’s Day in his book in 1943, and 10 years later, he sent an official request to the government and created a campaign for it. The first celebration of Mother’s day in Egypt took place on March 21, 1957, and the rest of the Arab world followed suit.

Traditional things Arabs do on Mother’s Day

There is an ancient Arab cultural truth that persists to this day; it’s common for children to kiss their mother’s hand as a sign of love and appreciation and that behavior links with Mother’s day.

Arabs always share a precious moment of the most Egyptian composer and artist Mohammed Abed Wahab. He did write one of the most famous songs, ‘Set El Habayeb’ (ست الحبايب), which roughly translates to ‘Lady or Queen of the Beloved.’ This song always brings tears to all the mother’s eyes.

Translate the lyrics to English so that you can learn these beautiful words.

Oh the queen of beloved, my darling —  ست الحبايب ياحبيبه

You are more precious than my soul and blood — يا اغلى من روحي ودمي 

You are the most tender and most kind — ياحنينة وكلك طيبة   

May God keep you for me mom — يارب يخليكي يا أمي  

For days you stayed up late, got tired, and took care for me — زمان سهرتي وتعبتي وشلتي من عمري ليالي 

And until today you still carry my worries — ولسه برضه دلوقتي بتحملي الهم بدالي 

I sleep at night, while you stay up and keep having thoughts — انام وتسهري وتباتي تفكري 

You wake up for prayer and come to check on me — وتصحي من الأدان وتيجي تشقري  

May you live a long life, my darling mom — تعيشي لي ياحبيبتي يا أمي  

And may I always have your blessings —  ويدوم لي رضاكي 

My soul is part of yours — أنا روحي من روحك انت  

And I’m alive because of the sacredness of your prayers — وعايشه من سر دعاكي 

You feel my happiness a year before the gods — بتحسي بفرحتي قبل الهنا بسنة 

And you feel my discomfort before I do — وتحسي بشكوتي من قبل ماأحس أنا   

May you have lived a long life my mother — يارب يخليكي ياأمي 

I spent my whole life paying you back for everything that you’ve done — لو عشت طول عمري أوفي جمايلك الغاليه علي 

My life span wouldn’t be enough — اجيب منين عمر يكفي 

Where can I find the most expensive gift — وألاقي فين أغلى الهدايا 

The light my eyes, blood, life, and the world — نور عيني ومهجتي وحياتي ودنيتي 

If you to accept these, those are my gifts to you — لو ترضي تقبليهم دول هما هديتي 

May God keep you for me mother, my queen of the beloved, my darling — يا رب يخليكي يا امي ست الحبايب يا حبيبه 

The importance of celebrating Mother’s Day

Why is it really important to honor our mother’s mothers once a year? The answer is simple. Mothers are the caretaker of a family. Depending on where you live, without mothers, we might have not survived in this world at all. Without mothers, we won’t even exist because we started in her womb. Until we were born, mothers already have nurtured us to prepare us for life.

On this Mother’s day, we take the time to thank our mom. We let her know how much she means to us. While in the end, moms believe the greatest reward for all they have done, is seeing their children turn into happy successful adults. They could all use a little acknowledgment of love form us along the way. They truly deserve a day and every day to be happy because our moms have been with us always despite the situations, the world has given to each one of us. Happy Mother’s day to all the moms in the world!



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