One of the Iranian traditions going back generations is for family members to sit around a korsi on Yalda night.
Korsi is a type of low table commonly used in Iran, with a heater underneath it, and blankets thrown over it. It is a traditional item of furniture in the Iranian culture. Family members sit on the floor around the korsi during meals and special events, like Nowruz and Yalda night. Although the tradition of sitting around the korsi has somehow begun to fade away among Iranians, some families have still kept the tradition alive.
Korsi was originally used to bring family members together, though it is also used as a heater during the cold season.
People would put heaters under the korsi. Heaters were first powered by coal, then oil and later by electricity. Families who could not afford a heater used a hole under the korsi instead. They would make fire inside the hole to be used as a heater.
Family members would spread on the korsi a 4m x 4m quilt, which was sometimes as large as 7m x 7m. The korsi quilt was usually part of the bride’s dowry and was so heavy. The quilt was usually made of red-coloured velvet or satin with decorative patterns in the middle and was covered with a white sheet. Over the quilt, they would spread another piece of fabric often made of cashmere or loosely-woven woolen cloth. They would put on that cloth a big round copper tray in which they would put the samovar and food plates.
They would spread comfortable mattresses around the korsi to sit on, and cushions to lean against. The mattresses were often red-coloured with diamond patterns.
The whole thing would provide a warm atmosphere for a friendly get-together and chit-chats.
In the past, people would usually not buy any food items from the market. Women usually collected food items during the year and served it on Yalda night along with food items that guests brought with them. The food items included walnut, watermelon seeds, melons, raisins, Russian olives and dried white mulberry, among others.
As for the tradition of sitting around the korsi, the elder of the family would sit in a place what was rather far from the door of the room, and then other members would sit down next to each other one by one. The closest spot to the door was usually allocated to children.
Members of each family would take a lantern with them each, which would finally result in a beautiful scene when all lanterns were put next together.