A lot happened around the world in 2014, much of it marked by tragedy. It changed me as a person forever. Horrific images of war, sad news about friends’ losses and health battles, racism still wide awake, drifts amongst friends over political views, and differences in opinion. I never felt more connected and involved with the world than I have, all at a touch of a button and through a computer screen. However, the tragedy of it all helped me a climb a step higher towards self realization that goes directly back to Rumi’s poem quoted above. So the New Year’s resolution this year is to work even more so on myself and focus on what I want to contribute to society rather than focusing on what society has offered us so far.
May you fulfill a dream or two or many in 2015 and continue on your road to success. May you have both physical and mental health for you and your loved ones. As one without the other is Ying without Yang. May your days be full of purpose leading to a better future for not only yourself, but for everyone you cross paths with. May your nights be full of peace and a time to reflect. And may your surroundings be as beautiful as your soul.
Shabeh Yalda is the longest night of the year and coincides with the Winter solstice. Shabeh Yalda شب یلدا, also known as Shabeh Chelleh, is traditionally celebrated with friends and family gathering, staying up late, eating, and reciting poetry faaleh Hafez (divinations from the poet, Hafez’s, book). The traditions are rooted in light superstition of staying up past midnight with a group to ward off the evil of the longest night of the year. Yalda has a history rooted in the religion of Mithraism. The Mithraists believed that this night is the night of the birth of Mithra, Persian angel of light and truth. At the morning of the longest night of the year the Mithra was born. On Yalda night it is customary to have a table spread of pomegranates, watermelon, ajeel (assorted nuts), and persimmons and to sit around a korsi (a low table with a heater underneath and a blanket over the table as shown in the picture below).
Here is a link to Divaneh Hafez (Hafez’s book of poetry) in Persian and in English translation.
I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all my readers and wonderful supporters, and everyone who celebrates something around this time of the year, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays followed by an amazing New Year full of health, laughter, and love. I am absolutely exhilarated when I hear from you, whether it’s for the feedback and suggestions you provide, our sense of unity when we can relate to one another through our experiences, or just your outright words of encouragement. Thank you!
Here I have posted our humble little Christmas tree mainly decorated with trinkets and ornaments that the kids have made at school. To be honest, deciding on whether to celebrate Christmas was a bit of a cultural struggle for my husband and I initially. While we both love festive holidays, beautiful Christmas lights, the sight of Santa Claus with his white fluffy beard, and the feel of everything Christmas, we felt a bit hypocritical in celebrating it. It was almost like by giving into this celebration we may be losing a bit of our Persian identity. So we questioned ourselves, challenged one another, and eventually came to the conclusion that we would indeed be putting up a little tree to culturally connect us with the rest of America. However we were very clear to our children we did not celebrate Christmas as most others do. We were not going to be buying presents for one another. We often don’t have the luxury of visiting our parents and having a big feast with them at this time either. Instead, we will put up our festive tree, and spread the holiday cheer by donating toys to kids who didn’t have them. I feel like we have found our balance and SO FAR, we have had no complaints from the kids. We reserve the present giving and big fuss for our Persian New Year, Norooz, to make the kids extra excited about it.
It once came up during a cultural leadership seminar that I went to (specifically a PAAIA NexGen conference) , that for immigrants, it is natural to lose a part of their culture as they migrate to another country. If they didn’t, they would become a museum, rather than an integrated part of their new society. It’s true. As immigrants, we are morphed into something new, what can be a beautiful amalgam of two or more cultures. But the challenge remains; what aspects of our Persian culture do we want to leave behind, and what are essential in the keeping. Only YOU can answer this for yourself and decide what kind of amalgam you choose to be. But if we are representing the Persian culture abroad, and as we pick up new habits and traditions, I hope you will remember this for our future generation:
“He said that if culture is a house, then language was the key to the front door; to all the rooms inside. Without it, he said, you ended up wayward, without a proper home or a legitimate identity.” ― Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed
Teaching your children about child abuse can prevent it. It is an uncomfortable talk for both parents and children to have as no one likes to think about these issues. But it is our duty as parents to bring it up to our children and at a very young age. I came across this video and think it can help teach parents how to discuss it with their children. I suggest you share all or parts of the cartoon with them (depending on your comfort level) or perhaps putting in your own words to make the chid understand. So please do your children a favor and talk to them about this no matter how uncomfortable it makes you and/or them.
I have also provided the Persian version as well below.