Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ayyam-i-Ha 2015!

The adoption of a new calendar in each dispensation is a symbol of the power of Divine Revelation to reshape human perception of material, social, and spiritual reality. Through it, sacred moments are distinguished, humanity’s place in time and space reimagined, and the rhythm of life recast. 

So I'm pretty fascinated by how a manifestation can come and completely 'reimagine' our place in time and space. I'm not going to pretend to understand the implications of this, but I can at least rattle off a few facts about the Baha'i calendar...
  • There are 19 months in a Baha'i year, each named for an attribute (virtue) of God.
  • Each month has 19 days; hence the Nineteen Day Feast, or just 'Feast,' occurring at this interval.
  • To account for the solar year, the period of Ayyam-i-Ha occurs between the 18th and 19th months. Otherwise known as February 26 - March 1.
  • Quite literally, they are the days outside of time reserved for gift-giving, acts of charity, and celebration. 
One of the loveliest things about Baha'i holy days and festivals is that there are no traditions. Each individual/ family gets to hand-tailor them for their own specific situation. There have been a few religions before this one, so in addition to creating new traditions we have lots of tried and true traditions to draw inspiration from*. Right now, Baha'is around the world are preparing to celebrate Ayyam-i-Ha, and though there are certainly common elements, the celebrations will be as varied as the celebrators. We have been using this 'advent' calendar to count down the 19 days before Ayyam-i-Ha. Each morning the girls run to the calendar to see what the Ayyam-i-Ha fairy has left them.


And while treats are lovely and certainly serve to mark this time of year with sweetness and joy, I am even more interested in using this time to cultivate habits of the spirit in my still-small, still-impressionable children. I want them to wake up each morning and think, "How can I be of service today?" Because I know that if they can do this, they will have stumbled upon the secret to happiness. And if everyone can do this, we will have stumbled upon the secret to world peace.

Enter the kindness elves. 

Originally inspired by this idea, Matilda and Oscar arrive from Sweden each year to help us spread kindness for the 19 days (1 Baha'i month) before Ayyam-i-Ha. And during the actual days of celebration, they present the children with clues for finding their gifts hidden around the house. Everyone knows that the kindness elves aren't real. Everyone also knows that they are quite partial to chamomile tea before (our) bedtime. 


Their suitcase got delivered to our door the night before our countdown began, and in the morning the girls opened it up to discover their old friends and a suitcase full of Ayyam-i-Ha decorations. This year's list for spreading kindness and joy:

1. Decorate the house
2. Make 9-pointed star decorations.

3. Go Ayyam-i-Ha shopping for Daddy with Mommy.
4. Go Ayyam-i-Ha shopping for Mommy with Daddy.
5. Learn a new prayer.
6. Sing 'Happy Birthday' to a very special sister and shower her with love today!
7. Bake a cake for Violet's birthday party.
8. Help clean the house and decorate for the party.
9. Order seeds for your very own flower gardens in the spring.
10. Take a walk in the woods and feel gratitude for all that God has given us.
11. Make pinecone birdfeeders as gifts for our feathered friends.
12. Make Ayyam-i-Ha gifts for our friends.
13. Make gifts for Grandma and Grandpa.
14. Have an Ayyam-i-Ha-themed story time.
15. Listen to a story about Abdu'l-Baha giving cloaks to the people of Akka every winter, and donate some of your own clothes to the local homeless shelter. 
16. Make Ayyam-i-Ha cards for your cousins.
17. Have an Ayyam-i-Ha dance party!
18. Make gifts for Samaya's class.
19. Shovel a pathway through the snow in our backyard for a lantern walk tonight.

*Actually, I'm pretty convinced there's really just one unfolding religion

1 comment:

  1. Precious! I've been thinking about how to celebrate Baha'i Holy Days with Taraz. (Remembering the dates would be a start. I think it took me until 4th grade for it to finally sink in that Christmas was on December 25). Love the idea of the Kindness elves and the list of things to do before Ayyam-i-ha begins. I think a lot of the holiday atmosphere comes from preparation and anticipation.