Hello lovelies, hope you’ve been well… I know I’ve been a bit tardy with my blog entry this time but tis the season!
I hope you are all having a fantastic break in the company of loved ones and recharging your batteries for 2017. I myself can’t believe just how quick this year has flown, it’s actually quite scary :0
I thought for this post I’d do something a little different just to mix it up a bit and talk about one of the traditions that we Persians celebrate. It actually falls near Christmas time so it’s quite fitting. What I’ll be discussing is “Yalda”; which is the celebration of the longest and darkest night of the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.
This tradition marks the start of the forty day period of the winter season, which is referred to as “Shab-e Chelle” (forty nights). Yalda night falls between the last day of autumn and the first day of winter (December 21st). Yalda is actually a Syriac word which literally means “birth” and in the religious context was the Syriac Christian’s name for Christmas. Not really sure how it ended up being imported into the Persian language but lets just roll with it!
So what’s so special about Yalda? well I had to do a bit of research on this topic to familiarise myself with the history behind it. As it turns out in the Zoroastrian tradition the customs and practices of Yalda night were originally intended to protect people from evil (As you do!) On this particular night people would gather in the safety of groups of friends and family and would share the remaining fruits of the Summer and pass the night together in good company. Although the religious aspect has been lost, the remainder of the tradition has been retained in the Persian culture.
Food plays a key role in the present day tradition. In Iran, during Yalda night all the family get together to eat and read poetry. Foods that are significant to this night include Watermelon, Pomegranate (no surprise there!), nuts and sweets. Apparently the red colour of these fruits symbolise the crimson hues of dawn….pretty deep stuff 😉 These items are usually placed on a “Korsi”, which is a low table that has a Doona over it and a heater underneath to keep you warm during the night.
There’s a lot of superstitious banter that goes on during this night, often associated with consumption of these foods in relation to health and well being. The entertainment portion involves telling anecdotes and of course reading Hafez poetry. One thing to note that I failed to mention in previous posts is that Persians are big on poetry and poets…in particular poems by Hafez who was a fourteenth century poet and one of the most celebrated poets in the Persian culture. His collected works are regarded as a pinnacle of Persian literature and are recited by many people in Iran especially during times of celebration and festivities. Due to the mystical nature of Hafez’s poetry his poems are used as readings or divinations. This is known as “Fal-e Hafez”, it is common practice for families to do these readings on this night.
The day that follows Yalda night is referred to as “Khore rooz” (day of the sun). Since the days become longer and nights shorten, this day marks the victory of the sun over the darkness. Although this is more significant for Persians of Zoroastrian faith.
Basically that’s Yalda in a nutshell! hope it’s been informative…I definitely learnt a whole lot 🙂
On that note, I would like to wish all my Persian peeps a very happy and belated Yalda. To my non Persian peeps, I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year. Thank you all so much for the support this year and see you all in 2017 Xx