SUNDOWN FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25: Gifts will be wrapped, decorations will be hung and all will gather in good cheer tonight; for devotees, Ayyam-i-Ha has been compared to a Baha’i Christmas—so feast and be merry! (An article on Planet Baha’i compares Ayyam-i-Ha and Christmas.) Each year, Baha’is adjust their calendar to meet the Gregorian calendar, and by doing so, they end up with four or five “extra” days—known as intercalary days and celebrated as Ayyam-i-Ha. (Check out videos and more at the Official Website of the Baha’is of the US.)
Faith founder the Bab instituted a calendar year of 19 months of 19 days each, and each year on Feb. 25, a sacred period is celebrated through March 1. (Wikipedia has details.) During these days known as “Days of Ha”—when “Ha” translates to the “essence of God”—Baha’is rejoice in the oneness of God by displaying acts of charity, love and generosity.
The original Baha’i calendar was created to demonstrate a break from Islam, as the practice of intercalation is forbidden in the Quran and faith leaders wanted to make known their independence. Still, it wasn’t until the Bab’s predecessor, Baha’u’llah, came along that Baha’is understood where to place the days of Ayyam-i-Ha. Since the final month of the calendar year is an important 19 days of fasting—followed then by the Baha’i New Year—Baha’u’llah placed the intercalary days directly before it. Although gift giving is an enjoyable part of these sacred days, many Baha’is also use the time to focus on spiritual endeavors, charitable acts and friends and family.