It will shortly be the ‘Shab-e-Yaldā’ (or as it is also called in Persian the ‘Shab-e-Chelle’). This is the traditional Iranian celebration of the Winter Solstice and occurs each year around the 21st December. Shab-e-Yaldā can be translated into English as the ‘Night of Birth’. (‘Yaldā’ itself being considered by some scholars to be a loan word of Syriac origin). The modern ‘Shab-e-Yaldā’ is essentially a social event marked by the eating of fresh fruit such as watermelons. However the deeper spiritual meaning of the festival can be seen as that of rebirth and renewal. The writer Massoume Price describes the historical roots of the ‘Shab-e-Yaldā’ in the following way-
“In most ancient cultures, including Persia, the start of the solar year has been marked to celebrate the victory of light over darkness and the renewal of the Sun. For instance, four thousand years ago the Egyptians celebrated the rebirth of the sun at this time of the year. They set the length of the festival at 12 days, to reflect the 12 divisions in their sun calendar. They decorated with greenery, using palms with 12 shoots as a symbol of the completed year, since a palm was thought to put forth a shoot each month… The Persians adopted their annual renewal festival from the Babylonians and incorporated it into the rituals of their own Zoroastrian religion”.