Nature teaches us that the moment when darkness is greatest is also the moment that light is about to return.
[In Iran] On the winter solstice families gather for a feast and surround themselves with candles, eat pomegranates and nuts, and recite poetry. “It is a beautiful way of assuring you that you have lived through long nights before. It is precisely at the point that the night is longest and darkest that you’ve actually turned a corner.”
Medieval Persian writings suggested that if one could not afford a feast, it is enough to bring a flower, “Look for the smallest bit of beauty around you. That very much resonates today, at a time where it seems like the mega-systems are all broken or falling apart, to return your gaze to the small.”
Omid Safi, professor of Iranian studies at Duke University, describing the 2,500 year old Iranian winter tradition of Yalda in the New York Times