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Payvand Iran News ...
12/22/06 Bookmark and Share
Iranians Celebrate Yalda Night
By Soudabeh Sadigh
 
Tehran, 21 December 2006 (CHN) -- While the Christians all over the world are getting ready to celebrate Christmas, Iranians will rejoice in celebration of one of their most ancient traditions, the night of Yalda.
 
 
Early Christians related this very ancient Persian celebration to Mithra, Goddess of Light, and linked it to Christ’s birthday. According to one traditional Persian tale of Yalda, “In birth, sun and Jesus are close to each other.”
 
This Zoroastrian tradition has survived the thousands of years even after Islam was spread eastward to Iran. Today Yalda is celebrated not only by the followers of Mithraism, but by Iranians of all faith by rejoicing with family and friends.
 
The Night of Yalda marks the longest night of the year and the beginning of the winter. This ancient ceremony dates back to the time of Zoroastrian Persia, when the majority of Persians were followers of this faith prior to the advent of Islam.
 
In addition to Iran, some countries of Central Asia such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Caucasus share the same tradition and celebrate Yalda Night annually at this time of the year.
 
On this night, family members get together (most often in the house of the oldest member) and stay awake all night long by eating dried nuts, watermelon, pomegranate, and by narrating old mythologies and praying to God for the symbolic victory of light over darkness.
 
According to old texts, Persians believed that those who begun winter by eating summer fruits would not fall ill during the cold season; therefore, eating watermelons is one of the most important traditions in this night.   
 
As days start to become longer, ancient Persians also believed that at the end of the first night of winter which falls on December 21st, darkness is defeated by light and therefore they must celebrate the whole night. As the 13th century Iranian poet Sa’di writes in his book Bustan: “The true morning will not come until the Yalda Night is gone.”
 
 
 

... Payvand News - 12/22/06 ... --


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