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12/20/11

Iranians preparing for Yalda Night ceremonies

Source: ISNA

Iranians are preparing for celebration of Yalda Night on December 21, the longest night in the Iranian solar year.

Yalda Night as called in the Persian solar calendar is a night with especial ceremonies. Families get together on Yalda Night at the home of the elders until after midnight. They are served with dried fruits, nuts, and winter fruits like pomegranates and watermelons, which are said to symbolize the red color of dawn in the sky. They also recite poems of highly respected mystic Iranian poet, Hafez.

The Night of Yalda (meaning birth) is a good chance for Iranians to spend the longest night of the year with family members and friends.

Also known as Shab-e Chelleh, Yalda is rooted in Iran's history and demonstrates Iranians' eagerness in strengthening family ties. The tradition was one of the most important celebrations in ancient Persia since some thousands years ago and continues to be celebrated until these days.

Yalda Night is the Persian Winter Solstice Celebration which has been popular since ancient times. Yalda is celebrated on the Northern Hemisphere's longest night of the year, that is, on the eve of the Winter Solstice.

Depending on the shift of the calendar, Yalda is celebrated on or around December 20 or 21 each year. Yalda Night festival was officially included in Iran's List of National Treasures in 2008 in a special ceremony.

According to Iranian mythology, from Yalda night forward, light triumphs over darkness as days grow longer. This celebration, based on the Iranian calendar, comes in the Persian month of Day, the pre-Zoroastrian creator god. Later he became known as the god of creation and light.

Yalda Night, the longest and darkest night of the year, symbolizes many things in Persian poetry, such as the separation between loved ones, loneliness and waiting. Many believe waiting would be over after this night as the light would shine and goodness would prevail.

Some sources believe that after Romans accepted Christianity, 300 years after birth of Jesus Christ, churches determined Mehr (Sun) Birth Celebration as birthday of Jesus Christ since the exact date of his birth was unclear. Actually, Yalda Night is an Aryan celebration and followers of Mithraism have held its traditions from many years ago.

When Mithraism was transferred from ancient Persia civilization to other parts of the world, many European countries celebrated December 21 as Jesus Christ Birthday, but from 4th Century onward due to some mistakes in calculation, Christmas day was determined December 25.

That's why Santa Claus wears clothing and hat of Zoroastrian priests. Also cypress and its star used for Christmas are remaining of Mithraism.

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