Since many centuries ago Iranians home and abroad stay awake on Yalda night, the year's longest night, to mark the victory of light over darkness.
This particular night, which coincides with the Dec. 21 night, is a pretext for all family members to get together with their grandparents and cherish the ambience of togetherness.
Yalda is an Assyrian term that means 'birth' and refers to the birth of the Sun. Romans called it Natalis Anviktos, the birth of the unbeatable.
It is interesting to know that the word 'noel' also originates from the same word. Europe's Papa Noel, who visits people on December 25, concurs with the Iranian Yalda.
In ancient beliefs, on Yalda night, the devil launches an attack to prevent the birth of the Sun but fails, as a result of which nights subsequently become shorter and days prolong.
Yalda night is the beginning of the first 45 days of winter starting on January 11 and ending on February 26. These 45 days are the coldest days of the year.
Celebrating Yalda night is one of the oldest traditions of Iran. Nuts and fruits, both fresh and dried, are served on Yalda night. Fruit is the sign of divine blessing.
The Iranian Yalda is celebrated in diverse ways across the country, but grandparents relate stories and recite the verses of Hafez. Yalda night is a good pretext for strengthening family ties.
The 6,000-year tradition revives the spirit of affection, kindness and togetherness in families.