Tuesday, February 26, 2013


So just what exactly is Ayyam-i-Ha?

To start, it is a celebratory period in the Baha'i calendar from 26 February - 1 March. As the calendar begins and ends at sunset, you can read that as "sunset on 25 February - sunset 1 March".

But what about leap year? Well, Ayyam-i-Ha sort of fits snugly in there, now doesn't it? Four days of celebration during most years, but five in a leap year, without having to change anything around. Nice, isn't it?

Sure, but what is it that we're celebrating?

Great question. To answer that, we need to look a bit at history and calendars.

To start, let's just say that most calendars are fairly crazy. Some are based on a lunar cycle, which is great for ease of remembering the months, but sucks if you want to know when to plant, say, tomatoes. You can plant them on the first day of the third month, but as a lunar calendar is only 354 days long, you end up losing a dozen days every year in relation to the sun. So a few years from now, planting them on that day means that you're planting in the middle of winter. Sucks to be you.

Some calendars are based on a solar calendar, which is great for planting crops, but generally makes the months confusing. For example, "How many days in a month?" "Well, that depends. 28, 29, 30 or 31." "How do you know?" "If it's named after a Roman ruler, 31, for sure. Otherwise, guess. Or try to remember that silly song, which only works if you speak English. Or you can do that thing with your knuckles, which I can never remember anyways, so that's pretty useless." "What thing? Rapping the person who made up this calendar?" Ok. That's just silly

So what does this have to do with Ayyam-i-Ha? Simple, really.

The Baha'i calendar is a solar calendar, which is good for farming, and has 19 months of 19 days.


I don't know. Maybe because it is the closest perfect square to 365. 19 x 19 is 361, which, you have to admit, is pretty darn close.

But about the extra 4 days?

Great question. And don't you mean to add in the bit about "or 5 in a leap year"?

Yeah, that, too.

Well, remember how I said that Ayyam-i-Ha fits snugly around that funky day at the end of February? The Baha'i calendar has 19 months in it, and Ayyam-i-Ha squeezes in towards the end there, right between those last two months.

Why those two?

Fits in well with leap day? I don't know.

Actually there may be another reason. Most calendars have a period of fasting built within them, and those times of no-food tend to be at the end of winter.


Probably because in the old times you were coming close to running out of food anyways, so hey, it's a good time to do the spiritual thing of fasting.

And you know what generally happens right before the fast? A party. Why? To eat all that food before the fast so that it doesn't go to waste. Remember? Pre-fridge. Oh, and it's also a good time to have a party celebrating the fact that you just survived winter.

So, looking at it again: Winter comes and you save all this food for the scanty times ahead. As winter winds down, you have a party, being certain to eat all that food that would otherwise rot. You can call it Mardi Gras, or whatever else you feel like. Now you're stuffed and probably want to go on something of a diet, so get fasting. Besides, fasting has all sorts of wonderful spiritual benefits, too. And now that your body has fasted, and your spirit is all spiritual-like, you can get to work for that spring planting so that you can harvest in a few months and begin this whole cycle all over again.

So just what exactly is Ayyam-i-Ha? It's a time of festive joy and gift-giving. A time in which we practice and develop our sense of generosity. It is so joyous a time that the very name means "The days of Ha!" And isn't "Ha" a happy sound? By the time you get to that fourth, of fifth in a leap year, day, you are just going around saying "ha ha ha ha" (and add in another "ha" during leap year).

It is so much fun that it is also often confused for a company that makes motorcycles and other musical instruments.

1 comment:

  1. I love your posts! This one makes me smile! Happy Ayyam-i-Ha!! :)