Yalda night; longest and darkest night of the year
One of the ancient Persian traditions that persists over the years is Yalda night. This celebration is very important among Iranian families, and the Iranians keep alive this ancient tradition every year.
What do we do in Yalda night?
In Yalda night, we get together in the longest night of the year, eat delicious food and read Hafez and Shahnameh poems. Yalda night is a beautiful tradition that has been reminiscent of our ancestors and with a happy celebration, we welcome to the cold winter.
It may be interesting for you to know how Yalda night was formed and became one of the greatest national celebrations in Iran. So stay with us in our iran travel blog.
Story of Yalda night
As we approach the last days of the year, it's true that the weather becomes colder, but there is a special glow between Iranians, because there is going to be a great celebration on the last night of autumn.
Ever since, in the iranian culture, this night has been celebrated for years. All families get together at elder’s home and serve delicious snacks and fresh fruits. Maybe on this day, more than ever, we read Shahnameh and Hafez books, we will review the epic poems of the Shahnameh, or we will ask Hafez to tell our fortune
The most noteworthy thing about the longest night of the year is that all ethnicities in Iran like Fars, Turks, Kurds, Lars, Baluchs and Arabs celebrate Yalda night with joy, companionship, kindness, friendship and honesty.
Yalda night is an advocate of good Iranian culture and traditions: being together, having hope for a bright future, praying together and keeping reading and telling stories from the past that all can be the light of the way for our children’s future.
History of Yalda night
History of Yalda Night and the celebration in this night is an ancient tradition and followers of Mithraism have been holding it in Iran for thousands years ago. In this belief, Yalda is the birthday of the sun and later the birth of the Mitra, the goddess of sun.
Many believe that the root of Yalda night is the heritage of the Caspian people. Cusps are the earliest Aryans which enters Iran. They were people with colored eyes and blond hair who first settled in Gilan and migrated to other parts of Iran after a while.
How long Yalda night has been celebrated?
As we mentioned in our iran travel blog, this sweet Iranian tradition is celebrated every year with a special warmth to make a memorable night. It cannot be said with certainty that first, how did the Yalda night celebration take place, but a lot of reasons have been said about it.
In ancient times, the Iranians lived through agriculture, and with the change of seasons, the type of their work changed too. Ancient Persians learned by experiencing that when the first night of the winter arrives, we reach the longest night of the year, and after that, days will be longer.
That's why this night was considered the night of the birth of the sun. They believed that darkness is the symbol of evil and the light is a symbol of goodness. Therefore, in the longest night of the year, celebrating and rejoicing were for the destruction of the devil.
They were spreading a large table full of fruits and nuts on Yalda night and trying to not sleep till the morning and spend the night by telling stories. Because after this night days would be longer than before, that means the sun won the darkness. It is interesting to know that the ancient Romans celebrated this night with imitation of Iranians, and even some of them thought that Jesus was born in Yalda night.
Meaning of Yalda night
Yalda night is one of the ancient Iranian celebrations and that is so important that it is even mentioned in Iranian poetry and literature. It may be interesting for you to know that Yalda is a Syrian word means birth and the Al-Biruni calls it the birth of the sun.
As we mentioned in this special iran travel blog, this night is called Chelleh night (Shab-e Chelleh), because from winter to 10th of Bahman, is considered as 40 days of cold winter and Chelleh is also means 40 days.
How Iranians celebrate Yalda night?
Today, Yalda night traditions are still like ancient times, and we do not see much change. Yalda night has its delicious meals, which means that it is also impossible to imagine Yalda without pomegranate or watermelon.
In each of Iran cities, the Yalda night table is set with more fruits and food that are available in that area. But the symbolic fruits of this night is pomegranate and watermelon that are always kept in colorful tablecloths of every city in Iran.
We all know that watermelon is a summer fruit, so you may wonder why we are eating it in Yalda night. Iranian believes after eating watermelon in this night, tolerating the winter cold weather is not hard anymore.
Pomegranate is also a symbol of happiness and nourishment, and by eating it, we get fresh energy in the first night of the winter.
nuts are other meals that can entertain the guests and eating some Iranian desserts and sweets like Baslogh will make this celebration so great for us.
in Yalda night usually we cook some iranian food like Anar Polo (Pomegranate with rice), Sabzi Polo ba Mahi (Rice with vegetables and fish) and Zereshk Polo (rice with Barberry) for dinner to this celebration more complete.
One of the most fascinating parts of Yalda night, which is now being forgotten, is a kind of poetry and storytelling. This tradition was held on many nights, including Yalda, during which elderly people defined stories and narrations for others, or read poems. They also narrated the real stories of their lives and presented their experiences.
as we said in this iran travel blog, Hafez poem books has a special place in Yalda night. The guests of this ceremony sit together and, with the wish of joy for the spirit of Hafez, they open his book and demand their future from him. Another of the things that was common in the past was that the people in Yalda night chose and broke the walnut, and they would call the future by seeing if the walnut was full or empty.