The head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) said registering Yalda on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list is on the organization’s agenda.
Ali Asghar Mounesan made the remarks in a ceremony to commemorate Yalda — the Persian solstice — which was attended by foreign representatives and ambassadors as well as ICHHTO managers, IRNA reported.
The ritual was registered on the National Heritage List in 2008 and proposed for a global status on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2015.
Iran’s intangible cultural heritage and its ceremonies, which are also held in neighboring countries, indicate Iran cultural influence, he added.
He hoped for the cooperation of neighboring countries to register Yalda as this will promote friendship among countries.
This joint heritage shows that Persian-speaking countries have always been together, he said, adding that registration of Yalda in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural heritage is of high significance for these countries.
Yalda is the apex of devoting love, he said, families will read books on this special night.
Reading the book of Hafez on this night indicates Iran’s culture of book reading and learning, he said.
He added that Yalda signifies hope for a bright future following a difficult and dark night.
It is a symbol of peace and kindness, he said, hoping that its registration as intangible cultural heritage will bring the two concepts in the world.
Amongst the Iranian entries to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list are Radif of Iranian music, traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan, ritual dramatic art of ta‘ziye, music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan and Qalishuyan rituals of Mashhad-e Ardehal near Kashan.
On the eve of the first day of winter, the winter solstice, sometime between December 21 and 22, a Persian nocturnal celebration is celebrated in Iran. It is commonly known as ‘Yalda’ (Night of Birth), or ‘Shab-e Chelle’, for ‘chelle’ meaning 40, and Yalda celebration takes place 40 days prior to the Zoroastrian fire festival of Sadeh, according to the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies.
The solstice is important because it marks the beginning of the days getting longer (a trend that will continue until the spring equinox). As such, it has been celebrated by cultures throughout human history.