Iranians have celebrated Yalda night in Iran since ancient times. Dating back to about 8000 years ago, this festivity, making the longest night of the year, is one of the ancient Iranian traditions. This night is called Shab-e Yalda (Yalda night) and is the time between the last day of fall and the first day of winter.

People in ancient times knew that from the first day of winter on, days get longer and nights get shorter gradually. What’s more, they knew darkness as a symbol of evil. So, in fact, they considered the first morning after Yalda the day of victory of the sun and light over darkness and evil powers and celebrated it at this festival.

Shab-e Chelleh (the night of forty) is the other name of Yalda night in Iran. It’s called so because it’s the first day of a forty-day period in winter. In terms of Persian traditional calendar, it’s a period of time beginning from December 22nd and ending on January 30th. The last four days of this Chelleh are supposed to be the coldest days of winter.

Customs and Traditions of Yalda Night in Iran

In most parts of Persia, the extended family, relatives and friends gather around and stay up late till dawn, enjoying the night. People were advised to do it because it was believed that evil powers were at their peak at that time, and in this way they would be protected against evil and misfortune.

In most of these gatherings, the family and relatives visit grandparents and spend the night with them. A variety of fruits, sweets, and nuts alongside tea and sherbet are served at this occasion. The guests enjoy a fine dinner and after that the elders entertain the others by telling them tales and anecdotes. Reading Shahnameh and divining by Divan of Hafez are the other favorite and common pastimes of this ancient Iranian tradition.

Another practice which is prevalent in some areas is what a young engaged man is supposed to do. He sends seven kinds of fruits and a variety of gifts to his fiancée at this night. Sometimes, the girl and her family also try to provide some gifts for the young man in return for the favor.

Decorating and lighting the houses and yards with candles were also fascinating customs at Yalda night in Iran. Although it was done before invention of electricity, it’s still common in some areas due to the glamorous view created.

Foods and Drinks, the Central Part of This Ancient Iranian Tradition

Among all the edibles, the following are more common to be served at Yalda:

  • Fruits: watermelons, pomegranates, red apples, pears, persimmons, and cooked beets.

The first three items are the most important ones. In pre-Islam period, when Mithraism was practiced by Persians, red color was a symbol of the sun due to associating the color of dawn. So, it can be the color of these fruits that makes them the integral parts of this tradition.

It’s also believed that eating watermelons at Yalda protects individuals from the excessive heat or any disease caused by the hot weather of summer.

  • Ajil: a combination of nuts most commonly such as pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, in addition to raisins, dried apricots or other fruits, figs, and roasted seeds of watermelon and pumpkin. The nuts can be roasted or raw to be mixed.
  • Beverages: usually tea and a variety of sherbets. And if there is snow, a mixture of snow and grape extract can be refreshing and memorable eating experience for you at Yalda night in Iran.
  • The main meal for dinner: rice and fish if possible, otherwise, one of the local foods depending on each city or region.

Celebrating the beginning of winter is not something happening just in Iran. There are some other areas like Pakistan, Japan, China, Korea, Philippine, Thailand, Vietnam, Scotland, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Bahamas, Jamaica, Carolina and Virginia, Russia, etc. which hold such a ceremony. All of them welcome winter and celebrate this night according to their own traditions.



Sizdeh Bedar ~ 13th Day of Nowruz
Iran Nature Day
Spring in Iran is truly the season of renewal of nature’s life. The pleasant fragrance of flowers of spring has spread all over Iran. Seedlings emerged from the soil and lawn-like green velvets has covered gardens and plains.

Mountains are full of colorful flowers whereas the yellow, white and red flowers amidst the green lawn have granted a specific beauty to the nature of spring.



Iran is home to numerous climates, every part of which welcomes eco-tourists. The Iranian people are highly interested in nature which is a divine blessing. Watching the green landscapes, coupled with pondering in the power and glory of God are parts of benefits of presence in the green and beautiful nature. The holy Quran considers the scene of creation as the display of God’s glory and magnificence, and in many ayahs invites mankind to ponder in the nature so that he realizes the profound wisdom, prudence, and management of God Almighty. Therefore, the Iranian families, inspired by the Islamic culture, view and respect the nature as one of the great divine blessings. In various opportunities, the Iranians spend their times in the nature and try to keep it clean.

Throughout the initial days of spring in Iran, people visit their relatives and friends. Today is 13th of the Iranian month of Farvardin, referred to as The Day of Nature, which marks the end of Norouz celebrations. On this day, according to an ancient Iranian tradition, people leave their home and spend the day outdoors to enjoy the nature, far from the anxieties of the everyday life. They also take with them some foods such as nuts, fruits and even their lunch. This raises a golden opportunity to describe parts of Iran’s green landscapes.

The Caspian Sea coastal belt, coupled with its thick and attractive forests, citrus fruit groves, tea farms, paddy fields and wooden houses with ceramic roofs is very beautiful. Therefore, many of the Iranian holidaymakers spend the Iranian New Year in this blessed region. The region of “Kelardasht”, which lies 50 kilometers from of the Caspian Sea in northern Iran, at a 1,000-meter altitude above the sea level, is a tourist attraction site for the eco-tourists, who long for the beauties of this region. In this region, the “Velesht” lake is engulfed by Alborz Mountains, creating a unique landscape.

On The Day of Nature, the residents of Iran’s mountainous regions attend foothills to enjoy the moderate climate of these regions in spring. The high mountains blanketed with snow, deep valleys, springs, wonderful waterfalls and the natural oak forests are among the wonders of nature in Zagros mountainous regions in western Iran. Ealam province, given its natural beauties and rainfalls throughout these days, is decorated with bushes, and flowers, attracting a large number of eco-tourists to these scenic landscapes.  Upon seeing the natural beauties of Ealam, we are further touched by the infinite divine glory.

Spring season in Shiraz in southwestern Iran is familiar to all, especially those who have come to this city. All have heard of beauty of spring in this city.

When the breeze flows on pine, and orange trees, one can see the power and glory of God in the delicacy of flowers.
On the Day of Nature, the attractive nature of spring in Shiraz attracts holidaymakers to this beautiful city, leaving them with ever-lasting memories of Shirazi people’s hospitality.

The beautiful Golestan Kuh plain in the vicinity of Khansar city in Isfahan province is another place which attracts the lovers of nature on this day. In spring, the rare species of red and yellow tulips and many medical herbs adorn Golestan Kuh. The springs in various parts of this area add to its beauty and freshness. Exactly on this time in southern Iran on the shores of the Persian Gulf, the pleasant weather and the sunshine grant a specific attractiveness to the port cities as well as Qeshm and Kish islands. Nature lovers in this part of Iran witness the species of colorful fish in the waters around Kish Island.

The heights around the capital Tehran have today turned into recreational regions for tourists, mountaineers, and athletes. On the nature day, the regions surrounding Tehran such as Suleqan, Darband, and Farahzad, are host to families, who enjoy the blessed nature on this day.

Every year, several organizations in various Iranian cities try to turn the nature day into a day full of happiness and security. Therefore, they prepare certain programs for people in parks so that people end the last day of holidays in a friendly atmosphere, and refresh themselves in the New Year.