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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Selling Dates During Ramadan:
A Nod to Current Events
In 2011


By Priscilla Adum

Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting. In Muslim cultures, many traditions surround the observance of Ramadan. This article from 2011 describes one of them.

In English

Ramadan kareem!

In Egypt, date sellers have created a new Ramadan tradition in which they assign names to their dates. Each year they name their best and worst dates after actors, political figures or important events. Each date seller names his dates with whatever name he chooses.

After Obama made his "A New Beginning" speech in Cairo in 2009, Obama dates quickly became popular. There was an even better quality and more expensive date that year called Super Obama.

In 2011, the best quality dates were being called Revolution Dates, followed closely by Martyr Dates (in honor of those who were killed in the revolution). Both Revolution and Martyr dates were selling for 40 Egyptian pounds per kilo (about 7 dollars). This is a steep price for the average Egyptian pocketbook. Most people buy dates in the 10 to 15 pound range.


En Español

Feliz Ramadan!

En Egipto los vendedores de dátiles han creado una nueva tradición en la cuál les asignan nombres a sus dátiles. Cada año nombran sus mejores y peores datiles en honor a actores, personajes politicos o eventos importantes. Cada vendedor de dátiles los nombra a su antojo.

Despues de que Obama diera un discurso "Un Nuevo Comienzo" en el Cairo en 2009, los dátiles Obama rapidamente se volvieron populares. Habia una variedad de dátiiles incluso superior a los Obama, que se llamaron Super Obama.

En 2011, los dátiles de superior calidad han sido nombrados Dátiles de la Revolución, seguidos por Dátiles de los Martires. (En honor a aquellos que murieron durante la revolución Egipcia de principios de año.) Ambos dátiles se venden por unas 40 libras Egipcias por kilo (aproximadamente 7 dolares Americanos). Este es un precio alto para el bolsillo Egipcio promedio. La mayoria de la gente compra datiles que oscilan entre las 10 y 15 libras Egipcias el kilo.

Low quality cheaper dates in 2011 were being called Masagen Toura, after Toura prison where many of Mubarak's ministers were sent after the revolution. These were sold for about 2 or 3 Egyptian pounds per kilo (about 50 cents).

In previous years, cheap poor quality dates have been named Avigdor Lieberman (after the much hated Israeli Deputy Prime Minister) and the name Bush has repeatedly been given to the worst quality Ramadan dates.

Date Sellers

En 2011, los datiles baratos y de mala calidad les han llamado Masagen Toura, el cual es el nombre de la prisión donde fueron enviados varios de los ministros de Mubarak despues de la revolución. Esos se vendien por unas 2 o 3 libras Egipcias por kilo.

En años pasados, datiles de mala calidad han recibido nombres como Avigdor Lieberman (en honor al muy odiado ministro Israeli) y el nombre Bush ha sido otorgado a datiles de pésima calidad en repetidas ocasiones.

Editor's Notes

2013 Update

Ramadan in 2013 began a week after the June 30 protests that culminated in the removal of Morsi from office. The cheapest and worst quality dates were being called Obama, Morsi, Patterson [reference to Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt], and Muslim Brotherhood dates. This shows the anger of the Egyptian people toward the U.S. for having supported the Muslim Brotherhood during their year in power.

Top quality dates were given the names Abdel Fatah El Sisi [the minister of defense who removed Morsi from office] and Tamarrod [the name of the popular June 30 rebellion movement]. See this article for more information.

Ramadan, 2002

On November 7, 2002 an article in the New York Times by Neil MacFarquhar talked about names being used for dates that year. The name ''Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction'' was used for some very expensive dates imported from Iraq, while "Bush" and "Sharon" were used for cheap, low-quality ones. Some popular medium-price varieties were "Yasser Arafat" and "Osama Bin Laden."




About the Author

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 




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