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If you hear a party starting in your neighborhood after sunset on February 24th, it might be your area’s Baha’is celebrating the Baha’i holy days called Ayyam-i-Ha, also known as the Intercalary Days.
We would love it if you’d join us!
Unique among all the world’s calendars and religious observances, these holidays combine parties and fun with gift-giving and service to others; and prepare Baha’is spiritually for the annual Baha’i Fast.
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What are the “Days of Ha”?
The Persian phrase “Ayyam-i-Ha” – which simply means “the days of Ha” – describes the four or five intercalary days in the annual Baha’i calendar when Baha’is rejoice, do charitable work and prepare for the nineteen-day Baha’i fast that always follows Ayyam-i-Ha.
In the Arabic alphabet, the letter “Ha” has several spiritual meanings, and one of them symbolizes the essence of the Creator. The days of Ha, then, have a special significance in every Baha’i year, symbolizing the happiest and most celebratory qualities of the Supreme Being. That’s why, in most Baha’i communities around the world, you’ll find Baha’is having parties and celebrations during Intercalary Days.
The Intercalary Days occur because the Baha’i calendar has a unique system of nineteen months, each made up of nineteen days.
Joyousness, the unique Baha’i Calendar, and the Earth’s rotation
This new and completely different approach to marking the days of the year accurately accounts for the Earth’s annual journey around the sun. At the end of the 18th Baha’i month, in the final days of February, the Baha’i calendar inserts four or five extra intercalary, or inter-calendar, days. Instead of inserting a leap year into the calendar every four years, the Baha’i Intercalary Days flexibly adjust the calendar each year to synchronize it exactly with the our planet’s 365 ¼ day orbit.
Baha’is have several special prayers for Ayyam-i-Ha. This one from Baha’u’llah, filled with beautiful, symbolic language, begins by asking 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.
The Baha’i teachings encourage all people to seek and find happiness and joy in life – to exult in the Creator’s delight. This realization of a joyful Creator leads us directly to the mission of the Baha’i Intercalary Days. If we can begin to understand the Supreme Being as exemplifying joy and happiness, we can begin to reflect those attributes, too.
RELATED: Joy: The Message of Ayyam-i-Ha
The inner meanings of Intercalary Days
In a deeper sense, Ayyam-i-Ha – the Days of Ha – also represent transcendence, what Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, called gazing “beyond the curve of time.” In Arabic, the letter Ha also symbolizes the eternal, timeless essence of God.
So in one way, the Baha’i Intercalary Days, because they are not bounded by any specific calendar month, afford everyone a temporal glimpse of that joyous, timeless eternal existence all human beings will one day inherit.
In each month of the year, Baha’is contemplate the attribute of the Creator exemplified by the name of that month – names like “Light,” “Mercy,” “Beauty,” and “Honor.” But during the Intercalary Days, those sacred days “outside of time,” we can all celebrate and commemorate the greatness of God beyond any individual attributes we associate with the Supreme Being, as Baha’u’llah wrote in his Most Holy Book:
We have ordained that these, amid all nights and days, shall be the manifestations of the letter Ha, and thus they have not been bounded by the limits of the year and its months. 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 …