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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Seva Zistane

The Night of Winter (Kurdish: Şeva Zistanê) is an unofficial holiday celebrated by communities throughout the Kurdistan region in the Middle East. The night is considered one of the oldest holidays still observed by modern Kurds and was celebrated by ancient tribes in the region as a holy day. The holiday falls every year on the Winter Solstice. Since the night is the longest in the year, ancient tribes believed that it was the night before a victory of light over darkness and signified a rebirth of the Sun. The Sun plays an important role in several ancient religions still practiced by some Kurds in addition to Zoroastrianism.
Several small religious communities in Kurdistan share similar ideas in regards to Şeva Zistanê. In Zoroastrianism, the belief of light over darkness is well-documented by scholars of the religion. The Winter Solstice is assumed to be the night when Ahriman is at the peak of their strength. The following day is celebratory as it is assumed Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Wisdom, has claimed victory. Since the days are getting longer and the nights shorter, this day marks the victory of light, or the Sun, over the darkness or evil.
In modern times, communities in the Kurdistan region still observe the night as a holiday. Many families prepare large feasts for their communities and the children play games and are given sweets in similar fashion to modern-day Halloween practices.


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