Shab-e Chelle (شب چِله) or Shabe Yaldā (شب یلدا) is the longest and darkest night of the year, which is celebrated annually. It falls on the 30th of Āzar (آذَر), the third month of Autumn (/pāyiz/*- پاییز) according to the Persian calendar, on Tuesday, December 21st, 2021.
Food plays a significant role in Shab-e Chelle. Common foods for this celebration include pomegranate (اَنار - Anār), watermelon (هندوانه - /hendune/ or /hendevune/), and nuts (آجیل - /Ājil/).
The red colors (/ghermez/ - قِرمِز) in these fruits symbolize love and bring life and passion to our cold, long night, making our hearts warm and ready for the upcoming winter until we celebrate Nowruz in three months, at the beginning of spring.
These items are traditionally placed on Korsi (کُرسی), a low-height table with a heater underneath, around which people sit to keep warm during the long winter night. So let's welcome the arrival of the winter solstice, using vivid and warm colors that illustrate the glow of life! (For more information about Korsi click here + )
But that's not all!
One of my favorite parts of Shab-e Chelle is reading poetry, especially from Divan-e Hafez, until well after midnight. It's a beloved tradition in Persian culture.
Typically, the head of the family opens the book and makes "fāl" (divination) for each family member. Everyone sits around, and when your turn comes, you make a wish or ask a question about your career, relationships, or other aspects of life. The reader then opens the book randomly, and the poem that appears is believed to be an answer to what your heart is asking for. I remember my bābābozorg (grandfather) reading every verse beautifully, and after each verse, he waited for my mom to interpret it for us. The whole process gives everyone an opportunity to hear different poems from Hafez's book, reflect on the important aspects of their life, and enjoy each other's company.
Lastly, I see Shab-e Chelle as a reminder that even the longest nights will pass. I will be spending this Chelle with my family (who came to visit), so I'll be sure to share some photos in this post!
شب چلهتان خجسته باد!