Celebrate Ayyam-i-Ha

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Ayyam-i-Ha (also called Intercalary Days) is a period of hospitality, charity and gift-giving for Baha’is that is celebrated from February 26 to March 1. This is a festive time where people give gifts–mainly to children, have parties and focus on charity. Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith, said of Ayyam-i-Ha, “It behoveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name.”

The Baha’i­ calendar is a solar calendar (365 days in a year, 366 in leap years) consisting of nineteen months, each containing nineteen days. This leaves four days (five in leap years) that do not belong to any month and thus are “intercalary” (literally, “inserted”) days.

Ayyam-i-Ha prepares Baha’is for the fast, which begins March 2 and ends March 20. Like Muslims during Ramadan, Baha’is refrain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, obligatory for all who are healthy and not traveling, with exemptions for pregnant and nursing mothers and those who are over 70. Fasting is a form of self-discipline and the fast is a time of prayer and meditation, during which Baha’is detach themselves from the things of this world and draw closer to God. Fasting reminds Baha’is of those who are poor and lack food, in order to be more compassionate and encourage charity. Bahai’s fast for 19 days (unlike Ramadan which is 30 days) and there is no obligation to make-up missed days of fasting as in Islam.

There are no prescribed ways of celebrating Ayyam-i-Ha. Baha’is have sought to avoid specific rituals that are not mandated in their scriptures and they have resisted commercializing their holidays. Baha’i families invent their own beautiful traditions each year for the four days of the celebration.

Ayyam-i-Ha Crafts
Make a bird feeder
Make an advent-style banner

Ayyam-i-Ha Recipes
Fesenjan–walnut pomegranate chicken

4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,
    Your article is incorrect, the Baha’i celebration of ayyam’i’ha is not akin to christmas.
    The celebration of christmas is the celebration of christs birthday with coresponding gift giving and celebrations.
    The baha’is celebrate the birth of baha’u’llah on november 12th.
    The act of gift giving is not custom in the bahai faith, but rather a Persian custom of gift giving during the New Year of the Persian calendar which corresponds to the March equinox which has been adopted by many believers.

  2. Thanks for your comment and we appreciate the further explanation. We did not mean to imply that Ayyam-i-ha celebrates a birth of a religious figure, like Xmas, so perhaps it was not the best analogy-we will remove it. As for gift giving, it’s our understanding that many Baha’is give gifts on these days. Perhaps this is something that changes depending on the Baha’i community around the world? We would love to hear more thoughts on this!

  3. Maybe the confusion is that Christmas has over the last 1500 years become a cultural celebration and less so a religious observance. I find that many people “celebrate” Christmas by taking the time to share gifts and be with family, even though they are not religious (or in some cases agnostic/atheist). Growing up as a Baha’i, my family celebrated Christmas by doing community service and observing December 25th by reading about Christ rather than gifting ourselves.

    Ayyam-i-Ha is a social religious holiday, for the purpose of social fellowship and community service. In preparation for the fast that follows. The gifting part is common practice all over the world, the quantity of gifting varies, just like the custom of Christmas gifting varies in the US. Generally the gift giving in my experience is more a token and generally modest.

    I would also recommend that out of respect we not refer to Christmas as “Xmas” if the aim of this site is to raise “aware” children. It is someone’s holy day.

  4. I think the editors are right in celebrations. I don t follow this faith, but my son’s friend follow Baha i faith. We had a card explaining Ayyam-i-Ha (days of joy). It says “This is a holiday in Baha Faith 0that serves as a time of hospitality, fellowship, gift giving and service to others. (name of the boy) wanted to make something for the class so he has handmade cards with a quote on love and has given every classmate a pot with a hyacinth. We hope you like it”

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