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December 21, 2017

As a reminder of the historic diversity of the Middle East, the popular name for the WINTER SOLSTICE celebrated by Iranians, Shab Yalda — شب یلدا — derives from the Aramaic word for birth (related to the word Yule), as the early Nestorian Christians adopted the ancient Iranian Zoroastrian practice of sitting up late into the night, feasting on foods symbolic of the sun such as pomegranate and watermelon in order to fend off the darkness on the longest night of the year.