Iran takes first step to register 30 Azar as stories’ day on national calendar

May 23, 2021 - 18:32

TEHRAN – Iran has taken the first step to register the 30th of Azar on its national calendar as a day of stories and storytelling as the General Culture Council of Iran approved a proposal for this issue. 

The final decision on the proposal will be made at the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (IIDCYA) announced on Saturday in a press release.

The 30th of Azar on the Iranian calendar is the last day of autumn, the evening of which is celebrated by Iranians as the ancient tradition of Yalda Night. Storytelling by parents and grandparents is a key element of the celebration.

“This proposal has been made to observe Yalda Night and officially highlight the cultural heritage and tradition of storytelling during the night,” the IIDCYA said in a press release last December after putting forward the proposal to the council.

In a letter to the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, Fazel Nazari, the then director of the IIDCYA, wrote, “This ancient tradition is a like a stronghold to protect the past and honors of Islamic Iran and a genre of art for the promotion and preservation of our cultural achievements.”

“Marking a certain day on the official calendar of the country as storytelling day can enrich Yalda Night and enhance the rituals of the night and promote family life and native lifestyle and stories,” he noted.    

The IIDCYA is the organizer of the International Storytelling Festival, whose 23rd edition was held in autumn 2020 online due to the pandemic.

Yalda Night, which falls on December 20 this year, 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 Chelleh Night, which alludes to the first 40 days of winter, considered to be the harshest of the season.

People on this night are usually served with fresh fruits and a mixture of dry fruits, seeds and nuts in floral bowls.

Following a hot dinner, many people often recite poetry, narrate stories, chant, play musical instruments or just chat cozily until midnight or so.

Photo: Sara Kasir (R), an experienced storyteller from Lebanon, gives a performance for Iranian children at the 22nd International Storytelling Festival in Tehran on December 18, 2019. (IIDCYA/Mahmud Rahimi)