|Iranian Ambassador to Korea Ahmad Masoumifar holds a book of poetry by Hafez, the Fal-e-Hafez, from which he divined his fortunes in the coming New Year during a Yalda celebration at the Iranian Embassy in Seoul, Thursday. (Iranian Embassy)|
Persians around the world have been celebrating Yalda, or the eve of Winter Solstice, since ancient times.
It was no different for Iranian diplomats here, as well as the many Iranians who reside in Korea.
Iranian Ambassador to Korea Ahmad Masoumifar, other diplomats and their families as well as other Iranian expatriates residing in Seoul celebrated Yalda at the Iranian Embassy here, Thursday.
“According to ancient customs, Iranian families celebrate the Yalda night, which is the longest and darkest night of the year and a sign of the beginning of winter,” Masoumifar said about what Yalda means to him. “Families get together on this night and by preparing a friendly atmosphere, they welcome the coldness of winter full of happiness and the blessings of God.”
Yalda is celebrated on the longest night of the year, that is, on the eve of the Winter Solstice which is Dec. 20 or 21.
Yalda originates from the ancient religion of Mithraism. Adherents believed Mithra, the Persian angel of light and truth, was born during the longest night of the year.
Persians enjoy winter fruits and sweetmeats on Yalda.
The most typical fruit eaten is watermelon. It is believed that eating watermelon will ensure health and good luck for the individual during the hot summer months the following year.
After dinner, the older individuals regale the others with tales of yore and by reciting poems. Another favorite Yalda pastime is the practice of divination by reading from the Fal-e-Hafez, a book of poetry believed to be imbued with mystic properties. Luckily for Masoumifar, the New Year will come out well for him according to the divinations of Hafez he read.
By Philip Iglauer (email@example.com