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Turkey's Ramadan treats

Despite the opulent dinners making the headlines, Turkey's traditional Ramadan foods and rituals are simple, nutritious and versatile.

For most Turks, especially youngsters, Ramadan means joy and wonderful, special dishes. Mothers tell children Ramadan will arrive 10 days earlier the next year if they behave properly. Following the lunar calendar, Ramadan does not have a set season and actually moves 10 to 11 days each year, so the traditions of Ramadan food change in each region of the Muslim world with the availability of seasonal products in different climates.

In Turkey, almost every city has its own Ramadan specialties for the main course, but there are unique features to observe only during this holy month wherever you travel in the country. On the first night of Ramadan, if you are near a mosque, you will see worshipers rushing for nighttime prayers and you may observe the "mahya," a lighted banner hung between two minarets of a mosque that welcomes Ramadan. The tradition of the mahya dates back to the early 1600s. Decorated with bright and high-tech lights in bigger modern mosques, they are unmissable.

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