Iranians are preparing to mark their cultural winter feast traditionally called Yalda Night (Shab-e Yalda or Shab-e Chelleh).
As the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, Yalda is commemorated on or around December 20 or 21 each year.
Yalda is a time when friends and family gather together to eat and read poetry especially by the Iranian prominent mystic Hafez who people ask him for an oracle.
The pleasure is in trying to decode his poems, find an interpretation and relate it to the current events.
Fruits and nuts are also eaten and pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant. Old texts say the red color in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life, invoking the splendor of Mithra.
In addition to Iran, Central Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and some Caucasian states such as Azerbaijan and Armenia share the same tradition and celebrate Yalda annually at this time of the year.
Yalda Night was officially added to Iran's List of National Treasures back in 2008.
Enjoy a film cut from Iranian movie ‘Bibi Khatoun’ (Khatoun, the Mother) featuring Parvaneh Masoumi, Rasoul Najafian, Seyyed Javad Hashemi, Atefeh Razavi and Afsar Asadi.
More on Yalda Night: