Tonight is the longest night of the year. The Winter Solstice occurs at 5:44 AM tomorrow. That means tonight is Shab-e Yalda, the night of Yalda, the ancient Persian solstice celebration of the birth of the solar divinity Mithra, said to have been born of a virgin at dawn on the longest night of the year. (Yalda is the Aramaic word for birth.) After the Roman Army spread the veneration of Mihra in the West, the solstice became the Roman feast of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, when the sun begins it return to the north and the days begin to lengthen.
Even in the era of the Islamic Republic, Yalda remains a popular seasonal feast, alongside Nowruz in the spring, in areas influenced by Persian culture: Iran, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, parts of the Caucasus and Central Asia, and among Zoroastrians worldwide.
Yalda greetings to all who celebrate, as the holiday season gets underway.
"Michael Collins Dunn is the editor of The Middle East Journal. He also blogs. His latest posting summarizes a lot of material on the Iranian election and offers some sensible interpretation. If you are really interested in the Middle East, you should check him out regularly." — Gary Sick, Gary's Choices
"Since we’re not covering the Tunisian elections particularly well, and neither does Tunisian media, I’ll just point you over here. It’s a great post by MEI editor Michael Collins Dunn, who . . . clearly knows the country pretty well." — alle, Maghreb Politics Review
"I’ve followed Michael Collins Dunn over at the Middle East Institute’s blog since its beginning in January this year. Overall, it is one of the best blogs on Middle Eastern affairs. It is a selection of educated and manifestly knowledgeable ruminations of various aspects of Middle Eastern politics and international relations in the broadest sense." — davidroberts at The Gulf Blog
"Michael Collins Dunn, editor of the prestigious Middle East Journal, wrote an interesting 'Backgrounder' on the Berriane violence at his Middle East Institute Editor’s Blog. It is a strong piece, but imperfect (as all things are) . . ." — kal, The Moor Next Door This great video of Nasser posted on Michael Collins Dunn’s blog (which is one of my favorites incidentally) ... — Qifa Nabki