Yalda یلدا (Winter Solstice Celebration)
Shab-e Yalda شب یلدا (direct translation: night of birth) is the ancient Persian winter solstice celebration, dating back to the pre-Zoroastrian times, where the Sun-God, Mithra, was born the morning of the longest night of the year. She was the symbol of triumph of light and truth over darkness, and the turning point of the year where the days grew longer.
Over the centuries, worship of Mithra gained popularity in Greece and Ancient Rome, but due to errors in calculations, her birthday was transferred to 25 December. Although, the religious significance of Yalda was lost after the rise of Islam and the arrival of Muslim rituals in Persia, it continued to be a widely celebrated social occasion.
Shab-e Yalda is a time of joy where family and close friends gather to eat, drink wine, and read poetry ’til well after midnight. Dried fruits, nuts and obligatory serving of fresh pomegranates and watermelon, to symbolize the crimson hues of dawn and new life with their red hues, are placed on a korsi. This is a Persian low table with a heater underneath and blankets thrown over it to keep its occupants warm while commemorating Shab-e Yalda.
People ate the last remaining fresh fruits from the summer, while listening to tales and anecdotes told by the elders in the family or read poetry. Food, warmth and friendship is how Yalda was and is celebrated in Iran.
Shab-e Yalda Mobarak (Happy Yalda)