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Iranians celebrate Dec. 21 as the longest night of the year. It is called Yalda Night or Shab-e Chelleh ( Chelleh Night ) in the Persian solar calendar during which special ceremonies are held. On Yalda Night, families gather at the house of parents or grandparents to spend the night eating delicious foods, nuts, fruits and reading Hafez poems.Yalda Night is a good opportunity to be with family members and friends, refresh old friendships and mend strained relations.During Yalda Night, fruits such as watermelon and pomegranates and nuts like pistachio, almond, walnut and dried seeds are usually served.On Yalda festival, Iranians celebrate the arrival of winter, the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness. Considered the longest night of the year, Yalda eve is the night when ancient Iranians celebrated the birth of Mithra, the goddess of light. Yalda, which means birth, is a Syriac word imported into the Persian language. It is also referred to as Shab-e Chelleh, a celebration of winter solstice on December 21--the last night of fall and the longest night of the year. Ancient Persians believed that evil forces were dominant on the longest night of the year and that the next day belonged to the Lord of Wisdom, Ahura Mazda.Iranians adopted their annual renewal festival from the Babylonians and incorporated it into the rituals of their Zoroastrian religion. The last day of the Persian month Azar is the longest night of the year, when the forces of evil are assumed to be at the peak of their strength. The next day, which is the first day of the month ‘Dey’ known as ‘khorram rooz’ or ‘khore rooz’ (the day of the sun), belongs to Ahura Mazda, the lord of wisdom. Since days become longer and nights shorter, this day marks the victory of the sun over darkness. The occasion was celebrated as the festival of ‘Deygan’, which is dedicated to Ahura Mazda on the first day of ‘Dey’.( شب يلدا - طالقان )

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