Ramadan: The season of sweet [Archives:2006/992/Reportage]

October 19 2006

Taiz Bureau
In Ramadan, sweet is thought of as the bride of the meal table due to its taste and nutritional value for the faster. As Ramadan is the month of generosity and charity, people buy different kinds of foods, as if they want to make use of the chance. Sweet is one of the most favourable popular and Arab meals during the holy month.

People have their own taste; some have Vermicelli, Kunafa and Rawani (local dishes) everyday while others prefer different kinds of sweets like jelly and cream. One hardly finds any meal table in Ramadan without sweets. Here's a glimpse into people's opinions regarding their tendency toward sweets in Ramadan.

Habits and traditions

Umm Ahmad has been accustomed to the inherited traditions from her mother since her childhood with regard to preferring sweet as one of the meal items in Ramadan's table. She usually allocates a special budget for Ramadan's table and welcomes the holy month as though it is a visitor, who has been awaited for a long time. She is interested in preparing sweets and sambousa since she believes that these things are products of the skilled housewife. “I don't buy from the market, I make sweets and sambousa at home and both are always part of my table during Ramadan. This is an inherited habit from our forefathers,” Ahmad added. “Sweets help Muslims compensate for the energy lost owing to fasting during the daytime, and as the faster has a desire to have sweet following dinner, I prepare sweets for my family before Ramadan. Ramadan is the month of generosity, charity and each Yemeni house has the same meal style with only minor differences.”

Sweets following fasting

Umm Saleh talks about habits and traditions pursued in Aden and Abyan; originally this woman is from Abyan, but lives in Taiz. “Ramadan has special foods and sweets are pondered upon as the main dish in Ramadan's table, as people favour to have sweet following fasting. In my ancestral area, Abyan, locals include jelly, cream, vermicelli and rawani, in addition to cake mixed with honey in their tables. We never forget Shaoubia, which is an inherited habit from our forefathers,” she explained.

Ramadan's table should contain sweet

As Ramadan is the month of fasting and abstaining from eating throughout the daytime, people prefer sweets, rich with calories, to compensate for the lost energy. Every housewife is interested in including sweet in Ramadan table.

Ramadan: Month of eating

Sahar holds the view that Ramadan is a month of eating, which is totally different from other's viewpoints. “In Ramadan, people become infected with the hysteria of sweet and extravagancy in sweet consumption. It is impossible to find any table without sweet, and instead of being a month of worship and penitence, Ramadan tends to be a month of eating. This seems to be an odd habit in a moth blessed by the Creator, as most of the families tend to be engaged in making meals and various kinds of sweets,” she said.

“Housewives spend around 4 hours in kitchens to prepare their delicacies, which the family members enjoy after breaking the fast. I oppose this habit as one can compensate for fluids the body lost during fasting with a small slice of sweet. I think most of these meals are unhealthy and harmful,” Sahar remarked.

Social habit; not Prophetic Sunna

When we consult the Sunna of Prophet Mohamed, we feel that one to three dates plus a cup of water is enough for breaking the fast. However, every era has its demands of the time, which is why we cannot say eating sweets in Ramadan is a kind of luxury. Most of the families with low and averaged income consider the fasting month the only opportunity before to exploit and satisfy their appetites. In contrast, the well-off families see that sweets are ordinary things as they have them everyday, in Ramadan and in other months. They consider them to be a complementary meal item to Ramadan's table, however, they allocate the biggest budget for the consumption of sweet during the holy month.

Purchasing rate high in Ramadan

People in Ramadan buy everything related with the Iftar meal, particularly sweets, as including sweet in Ramadan's table has become a vital habit, which people cannot dispense with. “I cannot break may fast without any prepared jelly or cream,” said Adnan Al-Shara'abi, a grocer. “People's turnout to buy sweets during the holy month is not a strange thing and many call Ramadan the month of sweet.”


Dawood, a grocer, mentioned that people turn to be extravagant while buying Ramadan foods. “At my grocery, I only sell the top quality foodstuffs during Ramadan,” he said. “Ramadan has its special flavour tasted by fasters. People prefer to buy large quantities of sweets as a kind of luxury, however, I think that this is extravagancy, as a small a mount of food and drink is enough for the faster. Ramadan is a month of worshiping and repentance, not a month of eating and gratifying one's appetite.”

“I oppose the extravagant consumption of sweets as such may be harmful to the stomach,” he noted, citing Hadith of Prophet Mohamed, who was quoted as saying: “We are people when we eat, we don't feel that our stomachs are full.”

Ramadan is the month of mercy, worship, love, repentance and forgiving. It is the month of feeding the poor the needy and making the family bonds stronger. Ramadan is a month of worshiping, as well as a month of luxury, i.e. to have sweets but with rational consumption.