By Pooya Stone
Shab-e Yalda [Yalda night in Persian] is an Iranian festival annually celebrated on the "longest night of the year" by the people of all ranges. Yalda, which calendrically corresponds to the night of December 20-21, counts as the longest and darkest night in the Persian calendar.
For many centuries, Iranian families seize this opportunity to gather and spend time together in a specific ceremony. They particularly adorn their tablecloths with different nuts, sweets, pomegranates, watermelons, and other fruits. The people also recite poems of Hafez as a national rite in this night, which is added as a special ceremony in Iran’s List of National Treasures since 2008.
These years, regrettably, Yalda has become a nightmare for Iranian families who are wrestling with high prices for basic goods, let alone the specific fruits and nuts of this ancient night. Therefore, it is a good suggestion to have a glance at the cost of this ceremony.
100,000 Tomans Only for Fruits
Watermelon, pomegranates, and oranges are the main fruits that rest on Iranian tablecloths in Yalda night. However, the average cost of each of them is between 5,000-10,000 tomans per kilogram. Therefore, each family of four should pay at least 100,000 tomans, and since families are gathering together at this ceremony, elders of families should pay much more, around 150,000 to 200,000 tomans [a little more than $15]. Notably, the government vowed to pay 45,000 tomans to about 60 million population as a monthly public aid and with a ballpark figure, many people have to spend all these “aids” for purchasing fruits alone. However, the prices won’t reduce after the Yalda ceremony as Iranians’ experience has proven before.
More Than 70,000 Tomans Only for Two Kilograms of Sweets
Like many other peoples across the globe, the Iranian people regularly serve sweets at their ceremonies on Yalda night. Now, the minimum cost of one kilogram of sweets is around 30,000-35,000 tomans. One kilogram of cream pastries is sold at 35,000 tomans; one kilogram of Zaban pastries [a kind of traditional Iranian sweet] is sold at around 30,000 tomans; one kilogram of Danish pastry is sold at around 30,000 tomans; one kilogram of papillon is sold at around 30,000 tomans, and one kilogram of Persian cupcakes is sold at more than 20,000 tomans. Therefore, each family should spend at least 70,000 tomans for merely two kilograms of sweets. Of course, no need to say that many families have to purchase different kinds of sweets, which means paying much more than 70,000 tomans.
At Least 300,000 Tomans for Nuts
Iranian families cannot avoid setting nuts on their tablecloths on the occasion of Shab-e Yalda. Then it is worth looking at the price of nuts in Iran’s Bazaar, as follows:
Almonds: 220,000 tomans per kilogram
Cashews: 180,000 tomans per kilogram
Pistachios: 175,000 tomans per kilogram
Hazelnuts: 80,000 tomans per kilogram
Walnuts: 70,000 tomans per kilogram (unpeeled)
Peanuts: 60,000 tomans per kilogram
Pumpkins seeds: 50,000 tomans per kilogram
Watermelon seeds: 47,000 tomans per kilogram
Sunflowers seeds: 30,000 tomans per kilogram
Leblebis: 20,000 tomans per kilogram
Raisin: 20,000 tomans per kilogram
Therefore, each Iranian family should pay at least 250,000-300,000 tomans for a kilogram of a mixture of these nuts.
At Best; Each Family Should Spend Half Million Tomans for Yalda Alone
With a ballpark figure, each family should spend 0.5 million tomans only for the Yalda ceremony. Critics might say 0.5 million tomans equal to nearly $40, which is not much. But the reality is, according to Tehran’s former mayor, more than 96 percent of the population suffers from poverty. The government officially announced that it has deposited 45,000 tomans for three-quarters of the people, which discloses around 60 million Iranians cannot forgo even to less than $4 per month.
These facts have turned Yalda into a nightmare for the majority of the people. They have no more than two options on the occasion of this ceremony; either spend their slight savings which results in more economic pressures with the approach of Nowruz; or bear the shame and not prepare themselves for this ancient celebration. Notably, almost all fruits and nuts are domestic products. But under mismanagement and donating the national wealth to the Ayatollahs’ allies and associates abroad, the Iranian people have been deprived of enjoying these traditional foods.
“Even in hopelessness there is hope; at the end of a dark night, there is light,” Iranians recite Nezami’s poem, hoping the victory of light over the long darkness shadowing above their country.