Yalda night or Shabe Chelle is one of the oldest festive in Iran. It was a holy date in ancient Iranian calendar from Darius the great to now.
Chelle and the ceremonies that happen in this night is a traditional event in Iran. that is the longest night and shortest day in a year, the last day of autumn and firs day of winter. And immediately after that days are longer and nights are shorter.
In the ancient era the year started with cold season and Christmas has its root in this belief. Yalda is also as sign for birth of sun god. Some researchers believe that Mithra will come back to the world in this night. That’s why time of day become longer.
Some other researchers believe that in Yalda night a prophet will be born. Because in Ashkani era a prophet was born in Yalda night and 2 dolphins bring him out of the water. In both belief we listen about birth ,chelle in Iranian language and yalda the syriac word both means birth.
Iranians use nuts, pomegranate, and watermelon In this ceremony, to decorate dinner table.also dried fruits. Red ancestors (symbol of sunlight) was cherished for Iranian ancestors, that’s why pomegranate, watermelon, red apple and oleaster are necessary in Yalda night.
Reading Shahname and Hafez lyrics are conventional in all families.
They usually plan the Yalda festive in grandparents house and all the family are gathering in there and settle around a warm seats that they call Korsi.
Yalda Night in Other Countries
In Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan , Kurdistan, Turkey, and Kashmir the same festive as shabe chelle is common. The name of this night In Khorasan is Sab-e Cheragh, means the night of lights, because every guests bring a lantern as a gift for the host. They use some traditional cookies and beetroot there. Another traditions that is done in this night is giving some gifts to bride and grooms.