Yasmeen Kamrani Sallam
Invitation to Explore Yalda
There are so many amazing celebrations during the holiday season, and the more children learn and represent all cultures in the classroom and in our homes, the more knowledge and understanding we provide for everyone while making every child feel seen and heard in their community.
This invitation to explore is for Shab-e Yalda or Shab-e Chelle also known as Winter Solstice, which is celebrated in the country of Iran. The Iranian festival, which is celebrated every year on the coldest and longest night of December, has a very long history and is among the most important Iranian celebrations.
To deepen the understanding or connection to this holiday you can read the bilingual book Yalda Night by Anahita Tamaddon. This tells the story of a girl who celebrates Yalda with her family. After reading the story, you can discuss the symbolic meanings of the Yalda Sofreh along with the traditions by letting the children explore the objects.
Here are the traditions of celebration: A sofreh table setting where everything is usually decorated in crimson hues of red to represent dawn and glow of life, along with candles to bring light to the long night. Sweets, pastries, fruits (pomegranate, watermelon, persimmon, oranges) and nuts are eaten all throughout the night. Every family member does a “Divan-e Hafez” where you get a "Fal." This is where you make a wish, ask a question, and when you open the book, the page that appears will be the answer to your question.
Preserving and practicing cultures brings us all some kind of meaning and connection to nature and major concepts of life. Whether you are an adult or child, the more we know the stronger cultural diversity we have in our societies. If you would like to learn more about how to integrate Yalda in your classroom or home check out Little Persian Learning Materials Learning for Yalda Actvities or 6 Easy Ideas to Share Yalda in Your Child's Classroom.