Winter 2015


Traditional food from Yalda Night

Today I would like to talk about one of the most popular celebrations in Iran, which is called Yalda Night or Chelle Night.

The festival dates back to the time when most of the Iranians were followers of Zoroastrianism, and on that night, they celebrated the birth of Mithra, the goddess of light. They believed that evil forces were dominant on the longest night of the year and that the next day belonged to the Lord of Wisdom, Ahura Mazda. Yalda Night or Chelle Night is the celebration of the longest and darkest night of the year, which is the night of December 21.

In addition to Iran, other countries such as Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan celebrate this night.

On this night, family members get together in the house of the eldest member to eat, drink and read poetry such as Shahnameh and especially Hafez.

On Yalda Night, Iranians set the Yalda table, which we call Korsi, and all family members gather around the table. Decorations and food common to the celebration include lights, the Hafez book, dried nuts, dried fruit, sweets, carrots, cinnamon, tea and fruits such as persimmons, and pears. Additionally, there are watermelons and pomegranates because the red colour in these fruit symbolizes the rebirth and revival of generations and the glow of life. Also, elders take turns reading from a book of poetry by the celebrated 14th-century Persian poet Hafez.

Moreover, Iranians believe that eating watermelons on the night of Chelleh will ensure health during the summer. Moreover, they believe that whoever eats carrots and pomegranates will be protected against the toxic bite of insects.