IRNA, Tehran - While the Christians all over the
world are preparing themselves for celebrating Christmas, the Iranians in Iran
and outside are getting ready to celebrate one of their most ancient rituals,
Shab-e Yalda (Night of Yalda which is the longest night of the year), in a
tradition welcoming the birthday of the Goddess of Love, Mitra.
Night of Yalda, celebrated on December 21, has
great significance in the Iranian calendar.
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 members of the family stay
together, narrate old stories told by ancestors, play traditional games and eat
dried and fresh fruits symbolizing various things.
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.
Yalda is a Syriac word meaning birth. Ancient
Iranian Mitra- worshipers used the term 'Yalda' specifically with reference to
the birth of Mitra.
As the longest night of the year, the Eve of
Yalda is also a turning point, after which the days grow longer.
In ancient times it symbolized the triumph of the
Sun God over the powers of darkness.
Because Yalda is the longest and darkest night,
it has happened to symbolize many things in Persian poetry; separation from a
loved one, loneliness and waiting.
After Yalda a transformation takes place -- the
waiting is over, light shines and goodness prevails.
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
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.
It is not clear when and how the word Yalda
entered the Persian language.
The massive persecution of the early Christians
in Rome brought many Christian refugees into the realm of the Sassanid Empire
and it is very likely that those Christians introduced and popularized Yalda in
Gradually Shab-e Yalda and Shab-e Cheleh became
synonymous and the two are used interchangeably.
Reading poems of the Iranian poet, Hafez, is one
of the most familiar activities on Yalda night.
... Payvand News - 12/20/08 ... --