History of Yalda Night
In ancient Persia and past time before Ashou Zartosht, the prophet of Ariya People, people spent their lives with agriculture and animal husbandry. They were familiar with natural contradictions such as white and black, light and dark, day and night, and warm and cold. They also knew contradictions in human temperament like good and evil, friendship and hostility. People believed that what was useful for life, it was the effect of good God, and what was harmful, it was from the effects of evil God.
Great and Little Cheleh
For the same reason, they loved day and brightness because they were happy and uplifting while working during the day. In the nighttime, they set up fire as they believed that the bad effects of life would not emerge. They gathered around the fire in the long nights of winter, especially in the longest night of the year which was the last night of Azar Mah in Persian calendar (21 December) because the day would be longer and brighter from tomorrow night.
Ancient Iranians prepared fruits which have been remained, nuts and other meals and they stay up late together happily and celebrated the Great Cheleh (means forty in Persian) which was started from the next day. The day began and lasted for forty days later, when the real cold of the winter was started until Sadeh Festival. After that, little Cheleh was started after Sadeh Festival and continue until 1 March, when cold winter was slowly declined and blossoms were blossomed which shows the arrival of spring.
Zoroastrians in Today's Society
Nowadays Zoroastrians gather in the last night of Azar month (21 December). Relatives meet each other in the eldest members of family's homes, especially grandmothers' homes. Each family prepares fruits such as pomegranate, watermelon, melon, apple and grape. Watermelon is more important among fruits because some people believe that eating watermelon would immunize them from cold during winter.
Rather than fruit, nuts and syrups and sweets are also found in a foods table of Cheleh Festival. Relatives stay up late and grandmothers tell the sweet story of the past for kids. Grandparents or someone else reads Shahnameh and talk about Iranian epics.
Yalda Night Tour
Shabe Cheleh also known as Shabe Yalda (Yalda night) is the longest night of the year on 21 December which has great significant in the Persian’s calendar- Iran is only the state that uses solar calendar in the Middle East. Derak Shiraz Travel & Tour Agency provides a pleasant time in your trip by attending a memorable Yalda Festival in Hafezieh (Hafez Mausoleum) which is held annually and includes reading Hafez and Molana poems, playing traditional music and have dinner in a cozy traditional restaurant.