While your calendar may not show 2019 is a leap year, it is for some people.
Introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, Americans use the Gregorian calendar, which has to be corrected every four years — an extra day is added in February — to make it match the sun’s cycle. Our next leap year is 2020.
However, people of the Baha’i faith mark leap days of their own every year.
The Baha’i calendar is divided into 19 months of 19 days each, with 11 holy days. That leaves four days — known as Ayyám-i-Há, or the intercalary days — unaccounted for. That increases to five days if the rest of the world is observing a leap year.
In 2019, intercalary days are Feb. 26 to March 1, followed by Alá, a month of fasting, which is March 2-20. The fast is similar to Islam, where no food is eaten during daylight hours.
The intercalary days are a time to prepare for fasting. Activities include giving gifts, helping others, including the poor and sick, and other acts of hospitality and charity. It is a joyous time.
These days allow the Baha’i calendar to fit within the Gregorian calendar.
Other features of this calendar:
- Baha’i celebrates its New Year on March 21, which coincides with the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere.
- Each day begins and ends at sunset.
- Instead of gods, the months are names for spiritual attributes: splendor, glory, beauty, grandeur, light, mercy, words, perfection, names, might, will, knowledge, power, speech, questions, honor, sovereignty, dominion and loftiness.
Baha’i is one of the newer world religions. Its founder, Mizra Husayn-Aiwas, was born Nov. 12, 1817.
He took the name Bahá’u'lláh, sometimes spelled Baha Ullah, which means Glory of God, in 1847 after he became an early follower of the Bab, a teacher who was martyred with thousands of followers in 1850.
Bahá’u'lláh proclaimed himself the prophet predicted by the Bab and established the Baha'i faith.
The main belief of Baha'i is that humanity, religion and society should be one. To achieve this, it is said, one should abandon prejudice, treat genders equally, make education universal and establish a world federation.
SOURCES: beliefnet.com/faiths/bahai/the-intercalary-days.aspx, interfaith-calendar.org/2019.htm, bahaiteachings.org/understanding-intercalary-days-and-the-bahai-calendar, bahai-ottawa.org/upcoming_events_holy_days.html