Iranians Celebrate Yalda Night
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
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