Winter Solstice and Yalda Night

I received an invitation to attend a winter solstice celebration with a recent Iranian immigrant (a former student of mine in the language program for which I volunteer).  It was an invitation I couldn’t turn down. 

Soccer Play Sentenced to Death
Yalda night with the Iranian diaspora of Winnipeg this year should have been a joyous occasion. After all, Yalda is about light regaining its strength after the longest night. After two years of Covid, people were no doubt looking forward to reconnecting. But instead of reconnecting via the red of juicy pomegranate and watermelon—traditional food served for Yalda night—the only red was blood on the images of the executed or shot during the last 96 days of the new Iranian revolution. Images on large screens showed the faces of victims of this government crackdown on protesters. 
 “Woman, life, freedom,” accompanied all the portraits. 

Photo-shopped images of some of those killed

While it was not a night of celebration, it was a night of empowerment through music, poetry and speeches. Various local politicians shared their support for this new Iranian revolution, as well. City councillor, Janice Lukes’ words stayed with me: “You are the light,” she told the attendees. And I think that’s the message we all need to know and to act on. Whatever our situation, we need to be the light. Was it a Chinese proverb that says, “many hands make light work”? Well, our world needs many hands.

The days are getting longer now. The light will prevail. 

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