On 21 March 1956, Egypt celebrated National Mother’s Day for the first time ever.
The celebration of a day to honour mothers was the brainchild of late prominent journalist Mostafa Amin (1914-1957),
Amin was inspired to propose a day to celebrate mothers in Egypt by the work of 19th century American community organiser and activist Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis.
Jarvis started Mother’s Day work clubs to help teach mothers how to properly take care of their children at the time of the American Civil War (1860-1865).
The Jarvis’s clubs eventually became a unifying force and played a role in promoting national reconciliation in the US at the end of the war.
In 1914, Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, persuaded the US government to mark the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Egypt celebrates in March
On 21 March 1956, based on Amin’s initiative, Al-Ahram Newspaper, the country’s leading daily newspaper, celebrated the country’s first ever Mother’s Day for two consecutive days.
On that day, the headline on page 6 of Al-Ahram read:
“Egypt Celebrates Mother’s Day for the first time. Public celebrations in associations, schools, clubs and public spaces”
The story read:
“Under the auspices of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the schools will start the celebration in their morning lines by speaking about the importance of and role of mothers. At 11:30am, schools will share a special broadcast by national radio tailored for students. The program included songs and poems celebrating motherhood.”
“Abdel-Hakim Amer, the minister of the military issued a statement to salute the mothers of martyrs. In Alexandria, they launched a big carnival in the sports field of the baladia (municipal government). The Egyptian Coptic Coalition established the Ideal Mother competition; the qualification for the competition will include the number of children and grandchildren, as well as her social work.”
On page 8, Al-Ahram dedicated a full section for readers to share their greetings for Mother’s Day. On the other half of the page, the paper ran an advertisement dedicated to Mother’s Day gifts and what to buy her on her special day.
One of the interesting short interviews on this page was one conducted with the Women Health Improvement Association, which celebrated the life of Mrs. Berg Estrand, the dedicated Swiss volunteer who was over 70 years old and looked after 450 orphans that were registered in the association.
On page 9, prominent figures in the country’s cultural scene and representatives of women’s movements wrote opinion pieces on women, their rights, and celebrated motherhood.
Poet Aziz Abaza wrote a poem titled: On Mother’s Day. Priest Ibrahim Saad wrote a piece on how mothers represent “the statue of vivid love.”
Meanwhile, renowned feminist Siza Nabarawi wrote: “we honour the Egyptian woman as an icon of the creation of this nation. I suggest that the gift of the government of the revolution to mothers would be providing safety and happiness by establishing a free-of-charge wide network of social associations, schools, hospitals, medical care, and nurseries for the underprivileged. “
On the following morning, 22 March, 1956, Al-Ahram dedicated the back page to photos from the celebrations of the previous day. The title read: Mother’s Day Everywhere.
Source: Al-Ahram Organisation and Information Technology Centre (Microfilm)