Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Iran, Season 1, Lesson 10 - Yalda (Chelleh Night)
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Iran Series at PersianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Iranian holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 10, Yalda (Chelleh Night). In Persian, it’s called shab-e chelleh.
Have you ever heard of the eve of the sun's birth celebration? This celebration, called the night of Chelleh or Yalda, lasts longer than any other night, or shab in Persian. It also marks the point in time in which days start becoming longer.
In this lesson, we’ll learn about how Iranians stay up late on Yalda, use Haafez fortunes to predict the future, and eat fruits and nuts so that they can spend the long night happily.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What do the words Chelleh and Yalda mean?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Yalda is the longest night of the year and is celebrated on the first day of winter. In the past, Iranians believed that the sun, in Persian khorshid, was born anew at the end of this night. For this reason, they would celebrate the sun’s coming rebirth throughout the night, and welcome the sun’s first appearance at sunrise. Another tale related to this night is about the love between the moon and the sun. The story states that the moon or maah stays up all night every day hoping to see the sun, but always falls asleep just before the Sun arrives. On this night, it finally succeeds in staying up late enough to see the sun. They keep talking throughout the night so the sun sleeps further into the morning to compensate, and thus night on this day lasts longer than it does on any other day of the year.
One of the most popular traditions associated with Yalda is to tell one’s fortune using the book of Divan-e Haafez. Hafez is a well known Iranian poet whose poems are widely used in fortune telling. If someone has an intention in mind, an elder of the family opens the book to a random page, reads the poem listed out loud, and interprets it. Afterwards, the person interprets the meaning of the poem as it relates to his or her intention.
The most enjoyable part of this night is the gathering held among family members. As one of the symbols of Yalda, fire is incorporated into the setting to bring warmth and light to the gathering. People all across Iran decorate their tables with similar foods, including nuts and red fruits like pomegranate and watermelon. Watermelons, or hendevaaneh are carved and decorated in creative ways, and filled with different kinds of fruits, nuts, and cookies.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What do the words Chelleh and Yalda mean?
The word Chelleh is taken from the word Cheheleh, meaning passage of a certain period of time in a year. The word Yalda in the Surani language means birth or delivery, and refers to the “re-birth” of the sun.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have any traditions similar to Yalda in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at PersianPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!