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Yalda: Iranian Celebration of Winter Solstice

: News date

(TEHRAN) – The last night of autumn has a different designation in Iranian tradition and is called Shab-e Yalda. Since ancient times, Iranians have been celebrating this night, which is also called Shab-e Chelleh. During this night, Iranians, in accordance with an interesting tradition, visit each other and hold family gatherings to celebrate this longest and darkest night of the year. During the gatherings, usually poems are read from Iranian traditional literature and poetry books such as the divan of Hafez and Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. Hosts normally serve the guests with Iranian dried fruits and dried nuts as well as fruits such as watermelon and pomegranates. The eve of Chelleh (forty days), is the beginning of the Greater Chelleh, which marks the beginning for the first forty days of winter according to Iranian myths. The Yalda Festival marks the begging of the first day of winter and the Greater Chelleh, which means the first forty days of the winter season.  

Yalda is a non-Iranian word, which has a common root with the Arabic words of towalod (birth) and wiladat (birth). Since from the first day of the Iranian calendar month of Dey (December 21) the length of the day becomes one minute longer, it is as if the sun is born on this night that is the last night of autumn. Iranians consider this night as the eve of victory of the light over darkness.