Yalda Night Loose Parts Play
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.
Last year we did an Invitation to explore 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, (typically the 21st) 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 and Yalda Night Celebration both by Anahita Tamaddon where they tell the story of families who celebrates Yalda. 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 ligh, life, & joy into 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.
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. And then provide watermelon and pomegranate shapes out of recycled cardboard and loose parts (black rocks, translucent shapes, acrylic rocks, and flat marbles) for the child to create the fruit.
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.
For more invitations about the Persian culture check out this blog post: 11 Nowruz Activities.