any night of your departure is the eve of Yalda
شب یلدا Shab-e Yalda refers to the longest night of the year which has been celebrated ever since the ancient times in Persian history. The word یلدا "Yalda" means birth in Syriac and is marked as the birthday of Mithra, the ancient Persian god of light and cosmic order, also called the son of Ahura Mazda, dating back as early as 5000 B.C.
The winter solstice occurs on Tuesday, December 21, 2010. On the eve of the longest night, Iranians celebrate the birth of the sun, Mithra or Mehr, by family and friends gathering together reading poetry, story telling, feasting on pomegranate seeds, slices of sweet watermelons, fall fruit of persimmon, grapes, dried fruits of apricots and figs, ajil, and drinking tea into late hours of the night. Reading poetry from our renowned Persian poet Hafez has become an integral part of our Yalda tradition and is my favorite part of the Yalda celebrations.
On this shab-e yalda I'll sit around the table with my family celebrating the birth of the sun and the victory of light over darkness. May the spark of light illuminate us from within and bring joy to all of our hearts.
Winter Solstice, December 21, 2010, Danilo Pivato, APOD
Solstice Celebration, December 21, 2002, APOD
Happy Yalda! Yalda Mobarak!