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HAPPY AYYAM'I'HA!!!!!!!!!!!

Literally, Days of Há (i.e. the letter Ha, which in the abjad system has the numerical value of 5). Intercalary Days. The four days (five in a leap year) before the last month of the Bahá'í year, 'Ala', which is the month of fasting.

Bahá'u'lláh designated the Intercalary days as Ayyam-i-Ha in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (our most holy book) and specified when they should be observed; the Báb (Forerunner to Baha'u'llah) left this undefined. The Ayyam-i-Ha are devoted to spiritual preparation for the fast, hospitality, feasting, charity and gift giving.

This is by far my most favorite time of the year. My parents created all sorts of cool traditions for us around this holiday season. Which also happens to be why we kids are bummed when we can't be "home for the holidays". We've decorated our home a little bit, but we're simply not established enough to have all the cool things my parents do. My mother creates a small tree devoted to various birds she's collected over the years. On our mantelpiece are displayed a variety of dolls from all over the world - unity in diversity, yay! Of course, there were also two dishes: one of Hershey's kisses and the other of M & M's. In order to control us (and possibly Papa as well :-)), we could only eat them if guests were over and we offered some to them first.

We also each had a little basket (each in a different animal shape) that was miraculously refilled with candy every morning when we came to breakfast! On the last day of Ayyam'i'Ha we always got a new toothbrush :-). Every day we got a gift from the "Intercalary Goose". NOTE: this is a particular family tradition ... not a "Baha'i thing" (though we love the goose!). One day we would all get art supplies, another was just clothes, etc. On the last day of Ayyam'i'Ha we would exchange gifts with one another. We all loved getting all the gifts, but we also took particular joy in how much the others were enjoying the gifts we had often carefully thought about for each person.

This year we are all scattered to the four winds - my sister is in D.C., my parents are in Cleveland, Mendon is in the Gambia, and Nathan is in Scotland (as you can see from the title of my blog, I'm in Israel). I'm sad because I'm not with my family, but I also feel like a total heel because I didn't get gifts out to them... (in Mendon's case, I would have needed to send it back in December!). I especially feel like a heel because some of them have sent me gifts... sigh. Well, for those of you who are reading this: I have not forgotten. I have started buying gifts (I want them to be special, since I'm in Israel and all). I think everyone will simply get one gift from us when we come home for a visit in the fall. (My aunt and uncle in Argentina do this, and their gifts ROCK!)


And the traditions keep changing, morphing with the changing family and changing needs, desires, configurations, etc. For example, the goose no longer leaves candy in the baskets anymore. This morning we found herb seeds! Lemon Basil, my personal favorite, Italian Basil and more Parsley. Who knows what we will find tomorrow morning?

And the mantel collection is growing and looking even better. In addition to the dolls I had from my childhood, I have been making a concerted effort to collect and display more diversity than I had previously. Daddy added a board with hooks so I could hang things off the mantel. It looks so good. I would try to take a picture, but it would be Ridvan (or later!) before I managed to get it to you. Also, because both Daddy and I are trying to not get any bigger (and even lose a little bit of weight) I put the candy dishes away. Daddy even helped decorate the bird tree this year and Rae added to my collection. It was a bit hard this year to get motivated, but I finally did.

We celebrated our first night last night and will share with Eric and Rachael the morning before the wedding. I have been scouting places in Lexington that would be fun for a brunch and Daddy stopped in AAA and got some tour books. Of course, I have some of Aunt Cindy's party favors for everyone. I think I told her either boxes or tubes, but she gave me boxes and tubes, so everyone is getting both.

I feel kind of silly or whatever. I was wrapping Rae's presents and found a box of little stuff that I had gotten one each of for everyone. I forgot to include yours with your package, so it will have to wait. Sorry.

PS Today is the Big Day for Gramma and Grampa! Yep, they are moving today. Daddy is over there right now. I wonder how it is going?

Wow! I'm so happy and excited to hear that you decorated this year and that you're changing things, too. I was a little afraid that because we weren't around (and you have a lot going on right now) that you wouldn't have decorated. Yay! I like the changes :-)

Hi Mara,

Thanks so much for sharing your family traditions. I'm afraid I haven't been so creative with our family, so now I'm inspired to start some traditions. I guess it's never too late.

Happy Ayyam-i-Ha!