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Fun and Philanthropy: the Baha’i Intercalary Days

From the Editors | Feb 24, 2017

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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From the Editors | Feb 24, 2017

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Want to go to a fun event in your local Baha'i community? This week, during the Baha'i Intercalary Days, you’ll find parties everywhere.

Why? The Baha’i Intercalary Days—specially set aside for hospitality, the giving of gifts, feasting, rejoicing and charity—happen this year between February 25-28. Combining fun and philanthropy, these unique holy days give everyone an opportunity to celebrate while helping others.

During the four or five days before the last Baha'i month of the year—usually starting on the night of February 25th –Baha’is around the world celebrate with parties, gifts, service projects and charitable humanitarian work. Those Baha’i holy days, called Intercalary Days or Ayyam-i-Ha, always precede the nineteen-day Baha’i fast that takes place before the Baha'i New Year, which occurs on the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and the first day of fall in the Southern Hemisphere.

What does the term Ayyam-i-Ha mean? Well, in the Arabic alphabet, the letter “Ha” has several spiritual meanings, and one of them symbolizes the essence of God. The word ayyam means days. So the days of Ha, then, have a special significance in every Baha'i year, representing the most joyful, happiest and truly celebratory qualities of the Creator.

These Intercalary Days have a special place in the Baha'i calendar, which uses a new and completely different approach to marking the days of the year and accurately accounting for the Earth’s journey around the sun. The Baha'i calendar has a unique system of nineteen months, each made up of nineteen days. That means 361 days every year—four or five days short of the 365 ¼ days it takes our Earth to make one full solar orbit.

So at the end of the 18th Baha'i month, in the final days of February and on the first day of March, the Baha’i calendar inserts four or five extra intercalary (or inter-calendar) days. Those days—besides their devotion to charity and celebration—flexibly fill and adjust the calendar every year, synchronizing it exactly with the Earth’s path through space.

If you go to an Intercalary Days celebration, you’ll likely encounter food, fun and music. You may find a focus on a local charitable project or support for a global effort to help others, too. Like all Baha'i holy days, you’ll probably hear a prayer or the reading of a passage from the Baha'i teachings. Most of all, you’ll feel a unified, celebratory spirit.

Also, you may hear this prayer from Baha’u’llah, which asks God to grant “every soul … a place within the precincts of Thy court:”

My God, my Fire and my Light! The days which Thou hast named the Ayyam-i-Ha in Thy Book have begun, O Thou Who art the King of names, and the fast which Thy most exalted Pen hath enjoined unto all who are in the kingdom of Thy creation to observe is approaching. I entreat Thee, O my Lord, by these days and by all such as have during that period clung to the cord of Thy commandments, and laid hold on the handle of Thy precepts, to grant that unto every soul may be assigned a place within the precincts of Thy court, and a seat at the revelation of the splendors of the light of Thy countenance.

These, O my Lord, are Thy servants whom no corrupt inclination hath kept back from what Thou didst send down in Thy Book. They have bowed themselves before Thy Cause, and received Thy Book with such resolve as is born of Thee, and observed what Thou hadst prescribed unto them, and chosen to follow that which had been sent down by Thee.

Thou seest, O my Lord, how they have recognized and confessed whatsoever Thou hast revealed in Thy Scriptures. Give them to drink, O my Lord, from the hands of Thy graciousness the waters of Thine eternity. Write down, then, for them the recompense ordained for him that hath immersed himself in the ocean of Thy presence, and attained unto the choice wine of Thy meeting.

I implore Thee, O Thou the King of kings and the Pitier of the downtrodden, to ordain for them the good of this world and of the world to come. Write down for them, moreover, what none of Thy creatures hath discovered, and number them with those who have circled round Thee, and who move about Thy throne in every world of Thy worlds.

Thou, truly, art the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. - Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Prayers, p. 235.

Whether you’re a Baha'i or not, you’re welcome to join your local Baha'i community for an Intercalary Days celebration!

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