The Sweet and Nutritious Date—Rooted in Time and Tradition
“A house empty of dates is a poor house indeed."
For Ramadan 2023 Raphia has put together a delicious selection of stuffed Medjoul dates. There are over 13 fillings to choose from, all available in exquisitely packaged gift boxes too. There’s something for all tastes. Whether you’re a modernist who may opt for the Orange and Dark chocolate combo or perhaps Fennel and Almond…or a traditionalist tempted by Pistachios and Walnuts.
While the team has been busy preparing your orders it got us thinking about the history of this ancient fruit and its association with Ramadan. Here’s some fruity facts to share in time for your weekend Iftar gathering.
• The date palm is a very old plant. Fossilised remains show that its ancestors were already flourishing 50 million years ago. Dates were first known to be cultivated in the Fertile Crescent between Egypt and Mesopotamia as early as 4000 B.C. Today, they continue to be an important crop in Iraq, Iran and of course Raphia’s home country—Morocco.
• Long before refrigeration, dried dates could keep for years, making them invaluable for travellers across seas and deserts. They can be turned into honey by boiling and straining the fruit. The biblical phrase 'land of milk and honey’ refers to honey from dates not bees.
• The location of origin of the date is significant to its multi-cultural relevance today. The fruit is prominent not only in the religion of Islam but the religions of Christianity and Judaism too. In the Biblical story of Adam and Eve the original ‘apple tree’ is thought to be a date palm. In Judaism, dates are considered one of the seven holy fruits.
• For Muslims the popularity of dates reaches its peak in Ramadan where Muslims buy kilos worth of dates for their homes. It is also the preferred food item of choice to break the fast.
• There are more than 200 varieties of dates with multiple shapes and flavours but all have one thing in common, they are rich in nutrition and just a few dates can keep you energised for hours. At Raphia we always choose the Moroccan Medjoul kown as the 'King of dates' due to its size and delicious taste.
•. Dates are also particularly beneficial during Ramadan because they are a strong source of protein and filled with many vitamins and minerals including Vitamin K, potassium and magnesium. They are an excellent source of fibre and carbohydrates too.
• Dates or the date palm are mentioned in the Qur’an 22 times. That’s more than any other fruit tree. Their significance is deeply rooted in Islam.
•. Prophet Muhammad knew of their benefits and enjoyed eating them and encouraged others to enjoy the date too. In fact the date was of one his favourite and most desired food items. For this reason Muslims consume dates not just at Ramadan but throughout the year because the fruit is regarded as part of the blessed prophetic diet.
• To quote the Prophet, “When one of you breaks his fast, let him break it with dates for they are blessed. If they are not found, let him break it with water for it is pure."
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