By Faranak Bakhtiari

Yalda Night needs national empathy against coronavirus

December 11, 2020 - 22:30

TEHRAN – For almost a year now, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the uninvited guest of the people across the world, forcing everyone to change their lifestyle; a new Yalda Night is approaching but this year Iranians must stay home, despite their thousand-year-old tradition of family gatherings.

The last evening of autumn and the beginning of winter is a ceremonious, auspicious time for Iranians and lovers of Iranian traditions everywhere on earth.

A peek into the bustling streets, grocery and confectionery stores have long shown that Iranians are preparing to celebrate Yalda Night, which basically celebrates the longest and darkest night of the year when family reunions were held entailing laughter, merriment, and good cheer. 

Nationally called “Shab-e Yalda” or “Shab-e-Chelleh”, it literally means the night of the forty. This refers to the first forty days of winter that are often the coldest and toughest to bear.

Of all the ancient Persian festivals, only two are celebrated by Iranians worldwide -- Yalda Night (the birth of a new sun) and Noruz or Persian New Year (the birth of a new day).

Falling on December 20 this year, Shab-e Yalda needs the empathy of the Iranian nation in the fight against the coronavirus, as people should stay home, despite their important tradition.

The outbreak reached its peak concurrent with the Iranian New Year celebration (March 21), which has made Noruz different from years and even centuries ago.

However, in Sizdah Bedar, people were also asked to stay at home and resist picnicking outdoor to break the chain of coronavirus transmission, and they were successful in curbing the disease.

Sizdah Bedar, also known as Nature Day, is an Iranian festival held annually on the thirteenth day of Farvardin, the first month of the Iranian calendar (falling on April 1 this year), during which Iranians reconcile with nature by spending time in resorts, gardens, and natural areas. It marks the end of the Noruz holidays in Iran.

It can now be said that Iranian families who have been involved with coronavirus infection have come to the conclusion that they will not get rid of the disease except by observing healthcare methods and social distance.

COVID-19 control underway

Strict COVID-19 restrictions which took effect on October 26 have caused most of the infected cities to get out of the high-risk “red” zone.

The National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control started strict restrictions in 43 cities that had the highest rate of infection in the country. Ten days later, decisions were made to set new limitations on highly-affected areas for another 10 days, through which 46 cities undergone restrictions.

The plan divided cities into three levels of alert, namely red, orange, and yellow.

Due to the high prevalence of the disease, a plan also went into effect on November 21, according to which all occupations, except for emergency services and basic food suppliers, get closed for two weeks in high-risk cities.

In a press briefing on Friday, Health Ministry spokesperson Sima-Sadat Lari confirmed 9,549 new cases of COVID-19 infection, raising the total number of infections to 1,092,407. She added that 787,853 patients have so far recovered, but 1,408 still remain in critical conditions of the disease.

During the past 24 hours, 232 patients have lost their lives, bringing the total number of deaths to 51,727, she added.

Lari noted that currently, 34 cities are in high-risk “red” zones, 260 in orange and 154 in yellow.

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