Yalda Night (Shab-e Yalda) is one of the most celebrated traditional events in Iran which marks the longest night of the year, that is, in the night of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice. itto.org The longest and darkest night of the year is a time when friends and family gather together to eat, drink and read poetry (especially Hafez) until well after midnight. Fruits and nuts are eaten and pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant. itto.org The red color in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life. The poems of Divan-e Hafez, which can be found in the bookcases of most Iranian families, are read or recited on various occasions such as this festival and Nowruz. Shab-e Yalda was officially added to Iran’s List of National Treasures in a special ceremony in 2008.
Yalda Night (Shab-e Chelleh) is Persian winter event which is commemorated on or around December 20 or 21 each year. These days many Iranians are out making their purchases of fruits such as pomegranates, watermelons and various dried nuts. Today, Yalda celebrations have become a social occasion when friends and family gather to eat, drink and read poetry (especially Hafiz) until after midnight. Each member of the family makes a wish and randomly opens Hafez’s book of poems and recites the poem, which is believed to be an interpretation to the wish. Fruits, particularly pomegranates and watermelons, and nuts are served in this night. The fruits signify the hope for having a fruitful spring and summer. The red-colored fruits are believed to symbolize the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life, invoking the glory of Mithra. itto.org Pomegranates with angelica powder are also believed to protect individuals against the Devil.