Sunday,19 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1238, (19 - 25 March 2015)
Sunday,19 August, 2018
Issue 1238, (19 - 25 March 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Frying pans or flowers?

What is the best way to celebrate Mother’s Day in Egypt, asks Ameera Fouad

Al-Ahram Weekly

Are you in a complete state? That’s okay, not to worry. Welcome to Mother’s Day in Egypt!

For many people, the question is what has turned Mother’s Day, which is supposed to be a mother’s most special day of the year, into a day when home appliances are celebrated?

Mother’s Day in Egypt was launched in 1956 by the renowned twin journalists Ali and Mustafa Amin, veterans of the newspaper Akhbar Al-Youm. Today, it has become a day looked forward to by shopkeepers, with business starting to boom as the date approaches.

The television is awash with advertisements offering special offers for set al-habayab (the beloved mother). What adds clumsiness to such incitements to consumerism is that these special offers tend to be for home furnishings or appliances — floor mats, textile covers, kitchen gadgets, toasters, food-preparation items, irons, fans, air-conditioners, you name it.

Does every mother want a frying pan, rice cooker or electric slicer? Or would she rather have jewellery, clothes, a day at the spa, or flowers?

“Buy me a frying pan and I will haunt you day and night.” This might not be what a mother says when she opens her Mother’s Day gift to find a frying pan, but it might be what she feels. It is every mother’s nightmare to be seen as no more than just another kitchen appliance.

You might have had good intentions when you grasped that she was in dire need of a new frying pan. But it might be a bad idea to give her one on Mother’s Day.

What do Egyptian mothers want?

“I wouldn’t have any problem receiving a domestic item as a gift for the family. But I would mind if that was what I was given on Mother’s Day,” says Farah Al-Saeed, 47, the mother of two daughters.

“To me, a bouquet of lilies, violets, or daffodils would make all the difference,” she adds.

A study published last year in the US Journal of Happiness Studies found that letters of gratitude increased the recipient’s satisfaction and happiness.

Maha Abdel-Kader, a language-school headmistress in Alexandria, agrees. “I have been teaching for more than 25 years, and I have always appreciated a letter written by one of my students to me, throughout all these years,” she says.

“A letter written by a student is one of the most cherished and treasured life blessings one could ever encounter. I have letters of every kind, from a loving scratch made by a kindergarten child to a poem written by a secondary school student.

“I receive countless presents and gifts, but I find the written word to be the most memorable. It is simply what makes me happy,” she adds.

Layla Al-Gharry, an author, says that what makes Mother’s Day special for her is the fact that it is the same day as her mother’s birthday.

“I take her for breakfast to some splendid place she would love to go to. I haven’t made up my mind what to buy her yet this year, but it will probably be clothes or perfume or chocolate or something like that.”

Says Yousra Saad, 26, “Every year I spend a lot of time with my sisters trying to think of something special for our mother. I always prefer to buy something special for my mother and mother-in-law, something like a ring, a dress or even a day at the hairdresser or beauty centre.

“The idea is that we would love to make her feel special on that day. This year I intend to buy her a radio, as she loves to listen to the radio at night. As a mother myself I wish my children would do the same for me. Collecting some photographs of our special times together would be nice, for example.”

For many mothers, Mother’s Day is a day when all family members come together and unite. This makes it a family day and not just a mother’s day.

“My mother died ten years ago, and I have not enjoyed Mother’s Day since. I now have a little daughter of my own, but I do not like Mother’s Day and everything it entails,” says Khadeja Osman, a housewife.

“It has become a routine for me to visit my father on Mother’s Day and bring him what he needs at home. This year he asked me to buy him a dishwasher, and so here I am trying to select a good one at a reasonable price,” she adds.

Says Fatemah Abdel-Aati, 35, a salesperson, “Maybe it is strange to think that I am waiting every year for my kids and husband to bring me something I need at home on Mother’s Day. We cannot afford to buy appliances at any other time of the year, but last year the family bought a television set on Mother’s Day. Television for the whole family is a necessity.

“To see my kids happy is the ultimate joy any woman could be blessed with. I would do anything just to see smiles on their faces,” she says.

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