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In Yalda Night, Iranian Eat Pomegranates and Recite Hafiz

Yalda 2


The month of December is filled with multicultural celebrations – some religious, and some non-religious. Christians observe the birth of Jesus Christ; Jews celebrate Hannukah, or Festival of Lights, for 8 days, And Iranians celebrate Yalda night.

Yalda refers to the mythological fight between Ahriman, or Satan in Farsi, and Ahura Mazda, or Lord of Wisdom, during the longest night of the year.

Part of a centuries old tradition, Iranians celebrate Yalda by gathering together to eat, drink, and most importantly recite poetry from Hafiz, the most renowned poet in the Iranian culture. During the night, people enjoy a variety of dried fruits, nuts, sweets and particularly in-season treats like pomegranates and watermelons which their red color symbolizes red crimson hues of dawn and glow of life.

Taking a break from the frenzy of Christmas preparation, I put together a humble spread completed by a hot thick herb soup to lend us its warmth in this cold night. I added Baslogh, a starch-based nougat stuffed with walnuts and rolled in coconut flakes. I celebrate Yalda with my family to honor the traditions passed on to us and with the hope that my daughter gets a glimpse of her rich ancestor’s heritage. Happy winter solstice! Happy Yalda!