Tehran, Dec 21, IRNA - Iranians throughout the world
will celebrate the longest night of the Iranian calendar year, Yalda, in a
tradition welcoming the birthday of the Goddess of Love, Mitra.
These photos by ISNA show the people
in Tehran have been busy shopping for fruits and nuts in preparation for
celebration of the Yalda Night. More photos are available on ISNA's
Yalda, the last night of autumn and the beginning
of winter, is observed in every Iranian family here or abroad with ethnic roots
On Yalda night, which this year falls on December
21, members of the family stay together, narrate old stories told by ancestors,
play traditional games and eat dried and fresh fruits symbolizing various
Pomegranates, placed on top of a fruit basket,
are reminders of the cycle of life -- the rebirth and revival of generations.
The purple outer covering of a pomegranate symbolizes "birth" or "dawn" and
their bright red seeds the "glow of life."
Watermelons, apples, grapes, sweet melons and
persimmon are other special fruits served on Yalda night and all are symbols of
freshness, warmth, love, kindness and happiness.
The Syranic word "yalda," meaning "birth," has
its origins in ancient Persia and has come to symbolize a tradition observed
since a thousand years ago in any Iranian family.
Ancient Iranians believed that the dawning of
each year is marked with the re-emergence or rebirth of the sun, an event which
falls on the first day of the month of Dey in the Iranian calendar (December
21). On this day, the sun was salvaged from the claws of the devil, which is
represented by darkness, and gradually spread its rays all over the world to
symbolize the triumph of good over evil.
Since Yalda night is the longest and darkest
night of the year, it has come to symbolize many things in Persian poetry --
separation from a loved one, loneliness and waiting. After the night is over a
transformation takes place -- the waiting is over, a new life begins and good
triumphs over evil.
Reading poems of the Iranian poet, Hafez, is one
of the most familiar activities on Yalda night.
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