Winter solstice, a night of culture and celebration

The winter solstice is the longest and darkest night of the year, but in the midst of it, Shab-e Yalda penetrated the night with bright colors, foreign sounds and the history of Persian culture.

On  Nov. 15 from 6-9 p.m. in the Great Hall at Pierce, more than a hundred community members and Persian club participants celebrated the Persian holiday of Shab-e Yalda (Shab-e Chelleh).

Fruits, nuts, watermelons and pomegranates were served during the event. The red fruits were a symbol depicting the glow of life and how light triumphs over darkness. Stories, poems, dances and family histories were shared with one another by Persian families in Iran and across the world.

Singers, musicians and speakers performed at the gathering. Celebratory fruits, side dishes and baked goods that looked like watermelon slices were served along with a traditional Persian dinner.

A documentary about the origin of Persian empire and culture was shown in their native tongue, Farsi.

The event is usually celebrated in December, but due to the campus being closed during the actual date of the holiday, the Persian club decided to celebrate a month earlier.

The club hoped to bring together Persians and other members of the community who may not have as many relatives or friends around as they once did in their home countries.

“In Iran, we have so many family members,” Maryam Yahyaei, President of the Persian club said.  
“We get together with 50 people in the family, but here for example, just for myself: it’s just me, my father, mother and brother.”

The club hoped that their future events will have an even bigger turn-out than this one did, despite the gathering surpassing their speculated numbers.

“We want to invite [others] the next semester to come to more of our events, because we were expecting a hundred people, and we got more than a hundred people, but we want more people to come and celebrate with us,” said Persian club member and Master of Ceremonies Atiyeh Yazdani.

The Persian club hoped that the event helped create a sense of companionship and culture among a community of immigrants that may be missing that sense of community.

“All that I’ve seen while I’ve grown up is seeing Persians really getting involved and getting into their culture,” singer at the event Ali Mohammadsoui said.  “I’ve seen them really get into it.  The importance is being together, seeing everybody together, and having a great time together.”