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Festival Moments of Yalda


The last night of the fall (Azar 30 in Iranian Calendar) is celebrated as the Feast of Yalda in Iranian culture. It coincides with December 21 or 22 and is the longest night of the year. In Iran this night is called Yalda Night (in Persian: Shab-e-Yalda or Shab-e-Cheleh), which refers to the rebirth of the sun. Yalda is a Syriac word, which found its way into Farsi by the Syriac Christians and it means Birth (the Persian terms of Tavalod and Meelaad are from the same origin). Ancient Iranians believed that in the end of this longest night, which they believed was evil, Darkness is defeated by Light (Sun) and days become longer. This celebration comes in the beginning of the Iranian month of Day, which was also the name of the pre-Zoroastrian creator god (deity). Later he became known as the God of Light, from which the English word DAY is originated. The first day of winter or the first day of the month Day known as KHORAM ROOZ or KHOR ROOZ (the day of sun) belongs to Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Wisdom.


Today the date for Christmas is slightly off from Yalda, but they are celebrated in many similar ways staying up all night, singing and dancing, gatherings with family and friends, lighting candles, and eating special foods and different types of fruit such as pomegranate, watermelon, etc. The feast of Hanukkah is also about a week earlier than Yalda. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival commemorating the rededication of the Temple after the victory (165 BC) by the Maccabeus over the Syrians. As M. Price noted, "Iranian Jews, who are amongst the oldest inhabitants of the country, in addition to Shab-e-Cheleh, also celebrate the festival of Illanout (tree festival) at around the same time. Illanout is very similar to the Shab-e-Cheleh celebration. Candles are lit and all varieties of dried and fresh winter fruits are served. Special meals are prepared and prayers are performed".


One of the traditions of Yalda is reciting the poems or asking Hafez for an omen to explain what will happen in the future (in Persian: Faal-e-Hafez). A collection of the verses on Yalda written by a number of Iranian composers can be viewed online in a section of Chain of Poems as provided by this author:


Happy Yalda!


Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD



Jafarey, A. (2002): Online Notes on Winter Solstice, Yule, Yuletide, and Yalda in Vancouver Community Network.
Price, M. (2001): Online Article on "A Brief History of Iranian Jews".
Saadat Noury, M. (2005): Various Articles on Persian History and Persian Culture.
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2005): Online Notes on Yalda (in English and Persian).


Originally published online on December 19, 2009


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Friendly Notes Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend: Albert Camus ============================= Legacy:

یلدای روشنا

خفتن خورشید
پشت چشم ستیغ کوه
گواه روشنی ست
که یلدای سیاه بیدار می شود

باید زمین را به گردن ماه بیاویزم
تا به گرد خورشید به گردد
و من
به گرد تو

خورشید را بر پرده می کشم
پرده را بر شب

یلدای روشنا!
شب را برای سفر
پشت ماه دراز کن
خورشید را بیدار می کنم.

حسین دانائی


M. Saadat Noury 1. Life Story and Photo: == 2. Poetry Anthology: =================== 3. Selected Articles:

Thanks for the poem and the link. Please accept this in return

یلدای ما

از سی گذشت یلدا، از این سیاهی امٌا
صدها سپیده سر زد، در باغ ِ باور ِ ما

دیری گذشت ، آری، بر باغ ِ بی تبسم
کُشتند و خود گشودند، اسرار ِ این معما

آن منبری که جان را، صیقل به عشق می زد
امروز با خشونت، سَر می زند صدا را

هر وعده اش تباهی، هر جمله اش سیاهی
جهل و دروغ و دزدی، با اِذن ِ حق تعا لی

دیگر چه دارد این سر، سربار ِ مرده پیکر
جز دشمنان ِ واهی، جز های و هوی بیجا

امشب که کودکِ جان، جشن ِ سپیده دارد
دیگر چه ترس از این شب، در ذهن و چشم ِ بینا

ما را خجسته بادا میلاد ِ نور و خورشید
تا جشنمان سر آید، روز آمده تماشا

ای جمع ِ پای کوبان، رسم ِ گذشته پویان
سیمای اوست آنجا، پیدا کنید پیدا

داریوش لعل ریاحی


M. Saadat Noury 1. Life Story and Photo: == 2. Poetry Anthology: =================== 3. Selected Articles:

Thanks for your note and the link; please accept this in return

جشن پر آوازه ی یلدا ، بر همه ی آزاد گان فرخنده و خجسته باد