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12/21/05

Iranians celebrate Yalda, the longest night of the year

Tehran, Dec 21, IRNA-Iranians throughout the world will celebrate the longest night of the Iranian calendar year, Yalda, in a tradition welcoming the birthday of the Goddess of Love, Mitra.

Yalda, the last night of autumn and the beginning of winter, is observed in every Iranian family here or abroad with ethnic roots to Iran.

On Yalda night, which this year falls 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

The Syranic word "yalda," meaning "birth," has its origins in ancient Persia and has come to symbolize a tradition observed since a thousand years ago in any Iranian family.

Ancient Iranians believed that the dawning of each year is marked with the re-emergence or rebirth of the sun, an event which falls on the first day of the month of Dey in the Iranian calendar (December 21). On this day, the sun was salvaged from the claws of the devil, which is represented by darkness, and gradually spread its rays all over the world to symbolize the triumph of good over evil.

Since Yalda night is the longest and darkest night of the year, it has come to symbolize many things in Persian poetry -- seperation from a loved one, loneliness and waiting. After the night is over a transformation takes place -- the waiting is over, a new life begins and good triumphs over evil.

Reading poems of the Iranian poet, Hafez, is one of the most familiar activities on Yalda night.

... Payvand News - 12/21/05 ... --



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