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. 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.
Previous years we explored Sahb-e Yalda through Yalda Night Loose Parts Play and Invitation to explore Shab-e Yalda or Shab-e Chelle also known as Winter Solstice. The bilingual books Yalda Night and Yalda Night Celebration both by Anahita Tamaddon, tell the story of families who celebrate Yalda and all of the amazing traditions.
While many countries celebrate the Winter Solstice, the country of Iran celebrates every year on the coldest and longest night of December, (typically the 21st). It has a very long history and is among the most important Iranian celebrations. 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, 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.
To deepen the understanding or connection to this holiday after reading those stories, we invited the children to create their own watermelon and pomegranate out of playdough and loose parts (flat marbles). The children also wanted to pick apart their own pomegranates and eat them as a snack!