Ramadan is during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Every day during this month, faithful observers of Islam do not eat or drink during the daylight hours. This is meant as a spiritual ritual to purify the soul and focus one's attention on God. Although the fasting occurs during the day, there is
a light meal eaten before dawn called the Sudhoor and then another meal after dusk called the Iftar.
Breaking the fast with dates has always been a Ramadan tradition. In Hadith literature it is written that the Messenger of Allah would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. Therefore, eating dates during this time has a spiritual significance. Dates have a long history in the Middle East as they have been cultivated in the area for thousands of years. The hot, arid climate provides ideal conditions for date palms to thrive.
Dates are also particularly beneficial during Ramadan because they are high in sugar and vitamins such as potassium and magnesium as well as an excellent source of fiber and carbohydrates. When fasting the body can easily develop mild health conditions like low blood sugar, headaches and lethargy. The nutrients found in dates can help alleviate these conditions and provide a source of energy. Dates are also known to help with digestion and can prevent an upset stomach when eating large amounts of food after a long period without eating.
At the end of the month of Ramadan, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast is held called the Eid al-Fitr. During this celebration, it is popular for families to host a feast for family and relatives in which dates are a very popular along with other foods such as honey, breads, figs, fruits and olives.
So there you have it, a brief history of why dates are popular during the month of Ramadan!