Shahin Shafiee ’16 Ph.D., mechanical engineering
Mohsen Dehghan ’19 Ph.D., biomedical engineering
Around the same time as Christmas, Shahin Shafiee celebrates the winter solstice in Iran. The Persian calendar is based on the sun, so on the longest night of the year Persians come together to celebrate Yalda.
It’s often celebrated with common Persian food, fruits, nuts and other goodies. Special fruits served during the holiday are watermelon and pomegranate. Another tradition is to read poems by one of Iran’s greatest poets, Hafez.
“Many people in Iran celebrate Christmas just as a nice time to be happy. I celebrate Christmas because I want to make it easier for my family to integrate into American culture. So, Santa brings gifts for my kids, too,” Shafiee says.
Mohsen Dehghan’s favorite winter solstice tradition is sharing old legends, like the one where Santa kicks out the wizard.
“It is told that during Yalda, an old man with a long white beard comes to town with a lantern in hand and kicks the old wizard out.”
Dehghan points out that many anthropologists and archaeologists believe this old man and Santa Claus are one in the same.