Shabe Yalda is one of the most ancient and popular celebrations in Persian culture. This year it will be celebrated on December 22nd! Essentially this symbolic night is a gathering with friends and family to celebrate the Winter Solstice.
Let's go back in history ...
The term "Yalda" originated from the Syriac language means "birth". It is a celebration with ancient ties that memorializes the triumph of Mithra, the Sun God, over darkness. Mithra is an ancient Indo-Iranian mythology whose cult spread from India in the east to the far west. The Persian derivative Mithra, who was a "benevolent god" and the bestower of health, wealth and food. People initially began celebrating by building fires during sundown of the last day in fall and kept them burning until the first day of winter ( Maah e Dey). Interestingly, Shabe Yalda is observed in other countries like Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Kurdistan, Tajikistan, and Turkey, as well.
Today, during Shabe Yalda we gather with family and friends.
A table is decorated in vibrant colors of red, orange, and maroon to represent dawn. Items such as pomegranates, watermelons, grapes, oranges, mixed nuts called “Ajil” and baked goods are placed thoughtfully on the table.
We eat delicious food, drink, and read poetry by the great poet Hafiz. Most importantly, we dance and sing the night away with our favorite Persian melodies we all love. Shabe Yalda is a night full of pure joy and laughter among loved ones. Shabe Yalda mobarak!
Author: Neda Mousavi