Tag Archives: Yalda

Creating personal traditions in the holidays

This morning, one of my dear friends, Maryam Shirojan, who is Iranian, came to my home with a gift of some of the most delicious baked pumpkin I have ever had. I felt her nurturance and love, which is itself the essence of celebration. Like many truly kind people, she has been through much, often at the hands of people who are less than kind. She retains her joy, warmth, humor, perseverance, inner beauty, and lack of judgment, characteristics I consider to be of the highest intelligence. She has created personal rituals and habits that are absolutely rich and beautiful.

Today is the ancient Persian celebration of the Winter Solstice, known as Yalda. Yalda is a recognition of the ‘longest night,’ and that the sun will also rise after the darkness and provide a new beginning. It is celebrated with delicious fruits, seeds, nuts, music, dancing, poetry, and drums. The day after the Longest Night was an homage to the Zoroastrian god of wisdom.

A food indigenous to Iran, pomegranate is believed to be a symbol of life and resilience, for it blossoms during the harshest climate of winter. Persians also believe that eating summer foods, such as watermelon, will keep the body healthy through the winter, and that dried seeds like pumpkin and sunflower are a reminder of the cycle of life – of the rebirth and renewal to come. Ancient wisdom that prevails.

Although I am a psychologist, I am by nature an anthropologist who wants to learn from the World, through story and practice. In my work with patients over the years, the primary therapeutic theme of holidays I have emphasized is of creating personal rituals with those we care for and forming new memories that may overlap with family and religious traditions, or not. All the traditions we have internalized started somewhere. I propose that we also make our own.

May we have Lightness of heart and being. 🌹

 

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