The Yalda Night is an Iranian festival, which is celebrated in the "longest and darkest night of the year". This corresponds to the night of the winter solstice, ie the night from the 21st to the 22nd of December (in the leap year of the night from the 20th to the 21st of December). At the same time Yalda is the festival on the "eve of the first forty days of winter". The feast originally came from Zoroastrianism, H. From the pre-Islamic faith of the Iranian peoples, but is also celebrated by the majority Muslim peoples of the Iranian cultural circle and Central Asia.
The native Iranian name of the festival is Shab-e Tschelle (h) ("Shab-e Tschehel)," Night of the Forty Days ". This was originally not a festival, but a religious custom to protect itself against evil in the longest and darkest night of the year. In the Zoroastrian tradition, night-time was a time of demons and other evil handlers of the Satanic Ahriman. In addition, it was believed that the dark powers were particularly strong and active in the longest and darkest night of the year, and people were advised to remain mindful and seek protection in the crowd with intimate friends and relatives. The family festival, as it still exists today, developed from this custom.
The number forty (Chechen) in the name of Shab-e Chehel, spoken of Shab-e Tschelleh, is a reference to the first fortieth day of winter, which begins the day after Schab-e Tschelleh. A name used today is Yalda.
In the Yalda Night, friends and relatives meet in the houses of the elders where they celebrate the night together. Traditionally, melons, pomegranates, red grapes and pastry are traditionally eaten. It is often read from the Dīwān of the Persian poet Hafis.
Another custom is the lighting of a great fire that represents light and hope. People are happy that the light is being reborn and pushed against the dark, because after the Yalda night, the days become longer again.