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Yalda night (locally called Shab-e Yalda) is the Iranian festival on longest & darkest night of the year. This is when everyone including friends and family gather in one place (particularly at elderly’s houses) and it’s based on eating, drinking, poetry until well after midnight.
Traditionally people would provide fruits, nuts and watermelon as the symbols of this event, however, At this time of the year (Dec 20 or 21) pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant of this event.
There are different stories about choosing these fruits and elements for this event, and among all of them we would say, the red color in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life. This is why people would just wait to have them while they read poems of Hafez at mid night.
Name of this event:
According to history of Iran people strongly were of the opinion that in each season there are two forties (particularly called Chelleh) and Yalda is just the gate of opening small forty of winter. Nowadays foods play an important role in Iranian families as this is one of the most common festivals in Iran and people would like to prepare sweetmeats specifically prepared for this event aside from nuts and dried food and everybody would sit at Korsi (old system of heating) and enjoy having them.
Shab-e Yalda was officially added to Iran’s List of National Treasures in a special ceremony in 2008.