Yalda Night registered on Iran’s National Heritage List

December 22, 2008 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- Yalda Night was registered on the Iran’s National Heritage List during a ceremony on Saturday marking the Yalda Night in Iran.

“Intangible heritage is different from the physical. Intangible heritage is more readily subject to obliteration and distortion than is the physical kind,” deputy director of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) for cultural heritage affairs told during the ceremony.
Several experts and Non-Governmental Organizations have been asking CHHTO to register this event on Iran’s National Heritage List for several years, Fariborz Dowlatabadi added.
The Yalda Night ceremony, an ancient Persian celebration that dates back some 8000 years, was documented for registration in order to preserve it for future generations, he added.
Dowlatabadi went on to say that the registration of such intangible heritage can prevent the ancient rituals and traditions from slipping into oblivion.
Yalda Night, which falls on December 21, is considered the longest night of the year when the ancient Iranians celebrated the birth of Mithra, the goddess of light. It is also known as the Chelleh Night.
Iranians considered night and darkness as evil forces. The night of December 21 is the longest night of the year with Evil at its zenith, and is considered unlucky. But after that, the nights grow shorter showing light’s triumph as the days grow longer and thus give more light.
Family members get together at the home of the elders and stay until after midnight to celebrate this night. They serve dried fruits, nuts, and winter fruits like pomegranates and watermelons, which are said to symbolize the red color of dawn in the sky.
Photo: A traditional music group performs during a ceremony held in Tehran on December 20, 2008 to celebrate the registration of Yalda Night on Iran’s National Heritage List. A traditional Yalda Night spread of nuts and fruits can be seen on the stage. (Fars/Ali Rafiei)