Due to its elongated, finger-like shape, the fruit’s English name (derived from Old French) and its Latin name both come from the Greek word for “finger”, dáktulos.
There are so many different types of date fruit. The UAE has more than 199 different types, with around 44 million palm trees. The top date-producing country is Egypt. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics mark years with images of full date palms, as the trees grow 12 new fronds a year.
The date palm was actually a popular garden plant in Roman peristyle gardens due to its tropical aesthetic. They weren’t able to harvest the fruit to eat it because of the temperate weather in Italy, so they were planted more for looks and as a symbol of victory.
Dates are mentioned several times in the Bible, and are the most frequently mentioned fruit in the holy Quran, probably ancestors to the oldest-known seed planted successfully in modern times.
In Oman, when a son is born, they plant him a date tree. The date tree grows together with him and assures him that his family will never suffer from hunger. Bedouin tribes of the Middle East, who eat a high percentage of dates in their diet, have one of the lowest rates of cancer.
Due to availability people used them for longer boat trips, crossing deserts and they even stocked them in fortresses and use them for survival food, when they were besieged. Correctly stocked date fruits can last for several years.
In Morocco, the Medjool date was referred to as the “king of dates”. This was because it was reserved only for Moroccan royalty and their guests. They were considered the more expensive variety of date due to the labor intensively of growing and harvesting them.