Iranian Winter Festival

“In Iranian tradition there exists the winter festival which is kind of like Christmas. The real name is Shab-e Yalda, which in translation means birthday night. I think it’s because we consider it the rebirth of the Sun. It happens every year on the night between December 21st and December 22nd. The reason is because that is the longest night of the year, and after that there is more and more light. Because darkness is considered evil and light is associated with good, during this night fires would be lit outside while inside families would be gathered around. What makes this similar to Christmas is the celebratory aspect I think. Inside the house while the fires protect them from the evil of the night, people and their families would keep each other company while they stay up all night. This would involve music, poetry, stories, anything that could keep the night fun and the energy flowing so that no one would fall asleep. I had only had the pleasure of experiencing this once when my father’s family came to visit, it was extremely fun! Other than that we don’t really celebrate it here, but I really like it and the story of evil vs. good that is the reasoning behind it.”

It is always fascinating to me hearing about different festivities that are parallel to ones in other nations/religions. Though my roommate has chosen to compare this to Christmas, the usual Christmas related activities are barely seen in this tradition. It must be the spirit of the matters that she is talking about, the family time, and the excitement towards the morning. Other than that, from an outside perspective, I don’t see how it is like Christmas at all. Of course it is a couple days away from Christmas, but again I see no relation.

What I do find interesting is the concept of celebrating according to the calendar. This relates back to societies that rely on agriculture. Anais had also happened to mention to me once that during this time the host gives out fruit of the season, and that tradition is to celebrate the past harvest’s produce. It also associates me to the Jewish calendar, which we use in Israel together with the regular one, mainly regarding holidays. The Hebrew calendar or, the Jewish calendar, is a Lunisolar one and most holidays correlate with agriculture.

Though Christmas is a religious holiday, this winter festival is about harvesting season and the fight between dark and light, evil and good, and in my opinion , does not need to relate to Charismas, as it has its unique beauty.