Yalda Night,joyful Iranians family gathering
Yalda Night is the last day of fall December 21 and 22 when people in Iran annually celebrate this ancient tradition.
The longest night in the year (yalda) has been celebrated for more than thousands of years. Families and friends get together especially in elderly houses and have fun, drink eat and do some unique customs. Some specific fruits and nuts are eaten and old members of family say old stories and read poems.
The history of Yalda goes back to 2500 years ago when this event added to official calendar in 500 BC. Yalda means birth linked to Mithra, goddess of light .in ancient Persian culture light, day and the sun were signs of god while night and darkness were evil. People believed that the last day of autumn finishes with lights victory and in the coming month the days were longer and the nights were shorter. Because of that belief, Iranians celebrated that night they stayed awake, built a fire and shared fruits which are remained from the summer and pass the long night together.
It is the longest night in the year which really means to Iranians, so family members try to gather together happily and have fun eat drink and read poems. Fruits have a leading role in this occasion, watermelon and pomegranate are the symbols of Yalda .There are some different belief that pomegranate is the symbol of birth and eating watermelon makes the person immune to cold winter .In addition, dried fruits, nuts, and some cookies are eaten on Yalda night. The foods that are served for this night change from family to family and it depends on where the city is located in Iran. Despite of eating delicious food and sweet and juicy fruits, reading poems by Hafez and Shahname is really popular and has an especial place in this night. During the night the oldest member of family read a poem loudly which is chosen randomly while others have made wishes.
In the past decades, Yalda has been celebrated in some traditional restaurants and hotels serving special food and fruits and do all traditions related to Yalda. The amazing part is live music played and all people sing old songs together and have fun. So this is a good choice for tourists to get familiar with Persian culture and customs and have memorable night in Iran with Iranians.