A Palestinian Mother and a Mother of Arabs
I am a mother, and in Palestine, Mother’s Day is a day where I am celebrated all day long. We have a number of special traditions that nearly every Palestinian family partakes in.
1. Mother’s Day is a day when husbands do something special for their wives. It may be a bit strange that this holiday revolves first and foremost around the wife (rather than the mother’s mother or husband’s mother), but this is simply how it is. The entire day is a special gift. The kids generally have not saved money, so they go to their father, and in the end, the dad purchases the gift on behalf of the family.
2. What sort of gift might I expect this year? Generally, Palestinian women do not receive gifts that might be purchased in the US, like perfume, lotions, clothing or jewelry. Since husbands and children associate “mom” with “kitchen,” they generally purchase some sort of kitchen appliance. If you enter a Palestinian home, it is typical that the most well-equipped room in the house is the kitchen. How is another kitchen appliance something of value for a mother? To me it is a little annoying because it assumes that mothers only exist to cook. But such is our tradition…until someone (*hint to Palestinian society *) decides to change it.
3. Mother’s Day feels like a national holiday since it is high season for advertising from local stores. If a man is particularly thoughtful, he will first (of course) purchase a gift for his wife, then for his mother, then for the unmarried and married aunts, then for grandmothers, and even for godmothers. This holiday consumes a lot of physical and financial resources, so to some degree, it can lose its meaning in the commercialization of this special day. Some men have come to resent it since it places a lot of burden on them to please so many women in their lives.
4. Mother’s Day is festive and full of parties. Many people wish we would only have one party, but we need to please our mom, and our mother-in-law, and then the grandmother, and so on, so Mother’s Day parties extend for several days. Christians are happy when Mother’s Day falls during Lent (as it does this year). This is because most Christians are fasting, so they cannot eat any cake, meat, eggs or dairy products. Since most of our traditional foods include meat, eggs and dairy, it narrows down the possibilities of what we can make and how much we have to prepare for this special day. Basically, the only thing people can eat is tabbouleh (all green/vegan).
On this holiday that will celebrate me, I really feel for my husband, and Palestinian men. This holiday can become quite a burden as some women expect to receive amazing gifts beyond their husband’s or son’s financial budget. Additionally, there is no Father’s Day in Palestine to celebrate the role of our husbands and fathers in our lives.
While this holiday has a good intention, to appreciate all our mothers do for us, it is most precious when we feel the love and appreciation of our whole family, from the children’s generation to the grandparents and great grandparents among us. Personally, I love flowers, and I would rather receive a small gift of flowers regularly to show that I am appreciated, rather than an expensive (and sometimes unwanted) gift on Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day can be a reminder to appreciate our mothers, not just once a year, but continually, and it’s an opportunity to show our children the value of appreciation and respect between spouses and multiple generations of family ties.
Palestinian men, today, I feel for you. And Palestinian mothers, know how valuable you are, not just today, but always. Happy Mother’s Day. --Abbsi
Goody Two Shoes is a Mother of Arabs
Saturday, March 21 is Palestinian Mother’s Day! Woo hoo and three cheers to me.
My children have four chances on various dates in Spring (Why Spring? Must be the lambs/chicks/babies season thing.) to acknowledge Mother’s Day. Different people here celebrate Israeli family day, UK Mother’s Day, Palestinian Mother’s Day and US Mother’s Day.
After all I am a Mother of four Arabs, well technically speaking 4 x 1/2 Arabs = 2 full Arabs (if you are counting). Still, in the Arab world, if the father is an Arab, the children are. In my world, they are my children, and I do not care what anybody says. I have influenced them a great deal.
Now is a one in four chance for them all to say thank you. Two Mother’s Days have passed and nothing happened so I am hoping this one will be the one they recognise. What are the chances? Perhaps, because they are all males, they don't seem to recognise emotional attention seeking calendar dates?
When preparing for an event and I dress up (rarely) I pose in the hallway and ask, "Do I look okay?" They all answer in a monotone way, "Yes," without looking up from phone/TV/newspaper/book, etc.
If only I had a daughter as I had envisioned…Too late for that now.
So I raise a glass/piece of cake/hand salute to myself and say, "Well done good and faithful servant.”
I also raise one to my husband who helped in every way from vomit mopping in the middle of the night to waiting outside parties as a chauffeur. He really was a help, especially when I was having a rant.
Thought: I could not have been this Mother I am without them.
For all the mums out there, check out this video: