Turkish candy to be included in UNESCO Cultural Heritage List

15:05, April 06, 2011      

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A Turkish traditional spicy candy with a history of about 500 years will be included in UNESCO Cultural Heritage List, a senior Turkish official said on Tuesday.

Yuksel Ayhan, deputy governor of Manisa, hometown of the Mesir paste festival, said "we have made applications to be placed in the list. We must conserve and promote our tradition. Our Mesir festival and culture will be included in UNESCO's Cultural Heritage List in 2011."

The Mesir paste, a traditional spicy energizing supplement in the form of candy, will be the second Turkish tradition in UNESCO list after oil wrestling inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Mesir paste tradition is a very old tradition in the history of Manisa, an Anatolian city in the Aegean region, dated back to almost 500 years ago. Mesir paste was started as a medicine during the Ottoman period but later became an important part of local festivity with thousands of people turning out on streets at festival every year.

According to the story about the origin of Mesir paste, Ayse Hafsa Sultan, wife of Ottoman Sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim and mother of Suleyman the Magnificent, became very ill and doctors couldn't find a cure. An Ottoman doctor mixed 41 different types of plants and spices together to make a medicinal paste and send it to the palace. When Hafsa Sultan ate this paste, she recovered and wanted to share this miraculous medicine with others.

As requests from the people increased, the paste was distributed to the people every year. The Mesir Celebration began this way around 1527-1528.

Since then, every year in March, which is known as spring festival Nevruz, thousands of people gather in front of the Sultan Mosque in Manisa to catch a piece of the Mesir Paste wrapped in paper and thrown from mosque rooftop.

Source: Xinhua
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