December 17, 2010

Yalda 2010! Celebrating the Longest Night of the Year (Winter Solstice)

The sight of you each morning is a New Year
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!


  1. Lovely blog! My husband and I will be celerating this year with friends in Qatar. Happy Yalda to you, too!

  2. Happy Yalda to you too my dear friend!
    What a beautiful "Sofreye Yalda", so amazing colors and a great story behind Yalda. I'm really proud of you Azita jan. You do such a great job with this blog. Everything you make looks so delicious and yummy.

    Keep up the good job!

  3. Very interesting post about the celebration of winter solstice! Hafez is a wonderful poet, I fondly remember a dear friend of mine, with whom we use to start our working day by reading some verses from him!
    Happy Yalda!

  4. Happy Yalda! Yalda Mobarak!
    nice and great

  5. yalda mubarik, Azita Joon- and more importantly, congratulations on being featured on the website, i read the write-up on Sanam's (My Persian Kitchen) blog. x shayma

  6. Happy Yalda!
    There is an award for you on my blog :-)

  7. fun to learn about your culture all new to me :-)

  8. Happy Yalda! Beautiful photos :-)

  9. Informative post and great insight on Persian history.


  10. I love this story of this day. We were in Mexico for it this year, and the night was just beautiful. I wish I had had the opportunity to read this post first. I'm saving it for next year!

    Happy belated Yalda.

  11. Thank you for sharing your traditional values for us. Who knows what a beautiful night eating tasty fruid and reading your poet's poems.
    Happy Yalda

  12. yummy ..figs..tea..and poetry..cant get much better...thanks for sharing this

  13. So beautiful ..Birth of the Sun! Nothing could be more meaningful than this a society where every celebration is about spending money as its all "man made" , this is a beauty!
    Happy Yalda .. omidvaram roozi Iran azaad besheh!