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Yalda – Iranians marked the longest night

Iranians throughout the world celebrated the longest night of the Iranian calendar year, Yalda, in a tradition welcoming the birthday of the Goddess of Love, Mitra. Yalda is the last night of autumn and the beginning of winter.
On Yalda night, which this year fell on December 21, 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.



Shab e Cheleh (Yalda Festival)
Yalda, a Syriac word imported into the Persian language by the Syriac Christians means birth (tavalud and melaad are from the same origin). It is a relatively recent arrival and it is refereed to the “Shab e Cheleh Festival,” a celebration of Winter Solstice on December 21st. Forty days before the next major Persian festival “Jashn e Sadeh”, this night has been celebrated in countless cultures for thousands of years. The ancient Roman festivals of Saturnalia (God of Agriculture, Saturn) and Sol Invicta (Sun God) are amongst the best known in the Western world.



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