Last night was Northern Hemisphere winter solstice which is celebrated in Iran and so many other countries. We used to call it Chelleh/Yalda night growing up. It is considered to be the longest night of the winter.
We would gather as a family, with my aunts and would laugh and tell stories till we finish the night. It was filled with lots of events, reading Hafiz, telling stories and cutting a watermelon, which is a whole story on its own. My hometown is famous for its sugar beets, we would bake them and have them. It was filled with orange and red fruits of autumn such as pomegranate and persimmon. We had dried nuts and sweets like cotton candy and Halva. Oh my, we had home made walnut and carrot halva’s.
After we immigrated to states, almost every year I had guests for this night. I would make foods which represent my culture (Azeri descendant) and we would laugh and dance. Before moving to states we would always go to my parents home and gather with my aunts.
This year because of Covid-19 we didn’t gather and I was missing my family so much. I was missing staying up all night laughing and talking about memories. Yesterday, I told stories of both my grandpa’s to our son. Both of my grandfathers have left their bodies, they were such amazing beings of light.
One big part of Chelleh/Yalda night tradition is opening up Hafiz poem book and read. I opened it and this is what came:
The radiance of your goodness manifested in eternity
Love appeared and set fire to the mountain, earth and sea
Your face radiated, and still saw angels were loveless
Setting this fire on man, was then your zealous decree
Mind wanted to turn this fire to its own guiding light
You set the world in chaos with your ardent, radiant glee
False seeker sought to witness the secrets of the world
Hidden hand came and kept away his undeserving plea
To others fate brought a lot, filled with pleasure and joy
My sad heart’s lot was to be saddened on its knee
My sublime soul was longing for a glimpse of your face
My hand running through the locks of your hair lovingly
Hafiz wrote his love poems only on the day that he
Let the pen write from the heart that is joyous and free.
Happy Yalda everyone, I hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy. May you all be filled with the beautiful light each and everyone of you is representing.