The richness of the color red is the dominant hue on the table. Exotic pomegranates, shiny red apples, sweetness of perfectly diced watermelon cubes, a big bowl of Persian nuts and dried fruits and some ripened persimmons caught my eyes. It is in fact Yalda night and my mum has outdone herself, once again.
Yalda night marks the winter solstice and it is considered the longest and darkest night of the year in Northern hemisphere. Persians in Iran and around the world celebrate this festival on the 21st of December annually by gathering with family and friends, sharing good food and good company. Yalda means birth in Persian and it refers to the birth of Mithra. Mithra is the god of light and symbolises goodness and light in ancient Persian culture. Therefore as you may have guessed it, Yalda night is a celebration of light where Persians believe to stay up all night long, sometimes until the sunrise in order to celebrate the end of darkness. Delicious food and drinks, usually plenty of Persian black tea is consumed all night long while families gather around and recite poems from the famous Hafez book of wisdom. The elders often have tales to share with the youngest and so a long ordinary night turns into a celebratory occasion during the festive season of December.