Sofreh-ye aqd & Shab-e Yalda

For December 2022, inspired by the sofrehs to celebrate winter solstice (Shab-e Yalda), an original marriage sofreh (sofreh-ye aqd) was designed for a private exhibition. Shab-e Yalda is the longest night of the year, and falls around 21 December.

winter solstice sofreh

This is the overall view of the marriage sofreh, which incorporates an impressive display of pomegranates, flanked by apples and decorated eggs—all symbols of fertility. A mirror takes centre stage and tea light holders are paired with bouquets of flowers in red tones. The sofreh also includes sweets, Persian sugared almonds, crystal sugar, gilded coins and a volume of an antique hand-written Qur’an.

variety of apples

This image focuses on a variety of apples, embellished with foliage and gold-painted walnuts, which are on displayed in and around an antique silver-plated basket. Both apples and walnuts are symbols of fertility, with apples numbered among the divine fruits (miveh-ye beheshti). The shiny, bright red fruits echo the traditions of the sofreh to celebrate winter solstice (Shab-e Yalda).

trays with nougats, crystal sugar, sugared almonds

The focus of this image is a pair of miniature trays containing Persian nougats (gaz), crystal sugar (nabat) and Persian sugared almonds (noql)—representing sweetness and harmony—specked with gilded coins (sekkeh), which represents wealth and prosperity. A volume of an antique hand-written Qur’an is displayed on top of its box and silk pouch, embellished with fine gold tassels.

coloured eggs in silver basket
The focus of this image is a selection of brightly coloured eggs, presented in an antique silver-plated basket, together with three hand-decorated eggs displayed individually. Eggs are a symbol of fertility in Persian culture, as well as in many other traditions. Decorated eggs are a vital part of the sofreh-ye aqd. The red-painted eggs echo the red colour scheme of the sofreh for Shab-e Yalda.
opened pomegranates
This impressive, brightly coloured selection of whole and opened pomegranates, embellished with pomegranate sprigs, is placed at the heart of the sofreh-ye aqd. Pomegranates are among the divine fruits (miveh-ye beheshti), and with their abundance of seeds are a symbol of fertility. They are also an indispensable component of any sofreh for the celebrations of Shab-e Yalda.
hydrangeas, spray roses and foliage
This is a close-up of one of the pair of bouquets placed on either side of the mirror and candelabra ensemble (ayeneh sham’dan). The bouquet of deep-red hydrangeas (Alps Classic and Mon Amour), Red Lace spray roses and foliage echoes the red tones of the sofreh for the celebrations of Shab-e Yalda.
pomegranate reflection in mirror
This evocative image focuses on the reflection of the pomegranates in the mirror. Pomegranates are an important component of both sofreh-ye aqd and sofreh to celebrate Shab-e Yalda. Here, the miniature bouquet of softly illuminated Red Lace spray roses and foliage is nicely visible and the seeds of Ligustrum vulgare gracefully hang over the mirror.