Shab-e Yalda, also known as "Shab-e Chelleh," is an ancient Iranian festival that celebrates the longest night of the year, which occurs on December 20 or 21 in the Gregorian calendar. Yalda, which means "birth," refers to the birth of the sun, which is believed to be a turning point in the battle between light and dark.
Shab-e Yalda is traditionally celebrated with family and friends, who gather together to stay up late and enjoy a feast of delicious food and fruits, particularly pomegranates and watermelons. Pomegranates, in particular, are associated with Yalda, as their bright red color is thought to symbolize the sun and the renewal of life.
In addition to food, the night is filled with poetry, music, and storytelling, as people share tales of their ancestors, myths, and legends. It is believed that this tradition goes back to the ancient Persian era, when people gathered around the fire to share stories and keep warm during the cold winter nights.
Shab-e Yalda is an important cultural event in Iran and is celebrated by Iranians of all religions, including Muslims, Christians, and Zoroastrians. It is also celebrated in other countries, such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan, where Iranian culture has had a significant influence.
In recent years, Shab-e Yalda has gained a renewed popularity among Iranians, who use the occasion to connect with their heritage and spend time with loved ones. The festival is also seen as a symbol of hope and renewal, as it marks the beginning of the gradual return of light after the darkest night of the year.