Iran applies to register “Yalda” on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list

Tehran, Dec 20, IRNA – Deputy Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Mohammad Hassan Talebian said that Iran applied to register Yalda Night traditional ceremony as an ancient festivity with UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Talebian said in an interview with IRNA, that Yalda Night traditional ceremony is being evaluated by the UNESCO experts and it will be discussed at the 2022 world committee of the UN cultural body.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a Webinar called “Yalda"  that Iran is seeking to register the ancient festivity of “Yalda Night” on UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

*** What is  Yalda Night traditional ceremony?

 Yalda, the year's longest night which actually heralds the coming of longer days by the winter being just around the corner is one of the nation's most charming festivals. Lots of Iranians are preparing themselves to celebrate this event tonight.

'Shab-e Yalda' or 'Shab-e Chelleh' (Yalda Night) is the time when family members get together to celebrate the winter solstice. In the ceremony, people eat different kinds of foods, ranging from watermelon and pomegranate to nuts and sweets.  

The colder the Yalda is, the merrier people will be as they will get together in a more cozy way.

The word Yalda, meaning birth, was borrowed into the Persian Language from the Syriac Language, spoken in Mesopotamia and other areas and the Asian Mediterranean in ancient times.  


Iranians, many Iranians used to use and in some parts of the country still use, Korsi, a wooden frame that looks like a low table with a coal or electric heater underneath it and a large quilt thrown over it.

Some sources say Yalda is taken from Islamic times. In pre-Islamic Zoroastrian tradition, the longest and darkest night of the year was a particularly inauspicious day. The rituals practiced during the night were originally customs intended to protect people from the evil of the prolonged darkness.

After thousands of years, Iranians still have kept the tradition of gathering at the elders’ homes, particularly their parents, in order to celebrate any happy gatherings, including the Yalda feast.
Reading the poems of renowned Persian poet Hafez is among the customary traditions in which Iranians are interested. They open the divan of Hafez and make a wish.

*** Yalda Night in the time of Coronavirus Outbreak

“I request the people to celebrate the Yalda night as an online event,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at a meeting with the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control last week.

 Some 175 more Iranians have died from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) over the past 24 hours, Iran’s Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on Saturday.

The health ministry spokeswoman said that with the 175  new deaths, the country's total COVID-19 death toll mounted to 53,448.

The restrictions come amid concern at the surge in infections in the country, recently seeing some 6,000 infections recorded in a single day.

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