The Baha’i year consists of 19 months of 19 days each (361 days), with the addition of “Intercalary Days” (four in ordinary and five in leap years) between the eighteenth and nineteenth months to adjust the calendar to the solar year. The months are named after the attributes of God.
The Baha’i New Year coincides with the March equinox (March 21). The Baha’i Era commenced with the year of the Bab’s declaration (1844 A.D.). Each Baha’i community holds a Nineteen Day Feast on the first day of each Baha’i month. The Feast has spiritual, administrative and social functions and is the principal gathering of Baha’is of a particular locality. Because the Baha’i day lasts from sunset to sunset, the Nineteen Day Feast is generally held in the evening on the day before the first day of the Baha’i month according to the Gregorian calendar.
Baha’i Month of Fasting
The last month in the Baha’i calendar, March 2-20, is dedicated to the Baha’i Fast. During this time, Baha’is between 15 and 70 years of age do not eat or drink for 19 days from sunrise to sunset and set aside time for prayer and meditation. Exemptions from the Fast occur for illness, pregnancy, nursing mothers, extended travel and arduous physical labor.
Baha’i Holy Days and Commemorative Days
World Religion Day (Third Sunday in January): The day is devoted to proclaiming the oneness of religion and the belief that world religion will unify the peoples of the earth. The Baha’i-sponsored observance was established in 1950 by the Baha’is of the United States.
Ayyam-i-ha or Intercalary Days (Feb. 26-March 1): Ayyam-i-ha, or “Days of Ha,” are devoted to spiritual preparation for the Fast, celebrating, hospitality, charity and gift giving. They are celebrated the four days (five in leap year) before the last month of the Baha’i year.
Naw-Rúz (March 21): The Baha’i New Year’s Day coincides with the spring equinox. Naw-Ruz is an ancient Persian festival celebrating the “new day” and for Baha’is it marks the end of the annual 19-Day Fast and is one of the nine holy days of the year when work is suspended.
Festival of Ridvan (April 21-May 2): The annual Baha’i festival commemorates the 12 days (April 21-May 2, 1863) when Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, resided in a garden called Ridvan (Paradise) in Baghdad, Iraq. At this time He publicly proclaimed His mission as God’s messenger for this age. The first (April 21), ninth (April 29) and twelfth (May 2) days are celebrated as holy days when work is suspended.
Declaration of the Bab (May 23): The Baha’i commemorates May 23, 1844, when the Bab, the herald of the Baha’i Faith, announced in Shiraz, Persia (now Iran), that he was the herald of a new messenger of God. It is one of the nine holy days of the year when work is suspended.
Ascension of Baha’u’llah (May 29): Baha’is observe the anniversary of the death in exile of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, on May 29, 1892, outside Akko (also known as Akka or Acre), in what is now northern Israel. It is one of the nine holy days of the year where work is suspended.
Race Unity Day (Second Sunday in June): The Baha’i-sponsored observance promotes racial harmony and understanding and the essential unity of humanity. It was established in 1957 by the Baha’is of the U.S.
Martyrdom of the Bab (July 9): The holy day commemorates the anniversary of the execution of the Bab (Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad), the herald of the Baha’i Faith, by a firing squad on July 9, 1850, in Tabriz, Persia (now Iran). It is one of the nine holy days of the year when work is suspended.
Birth of the Bab (Oct. 20): The day is an observance of the anniversary of the birth on Oct. 20, 1819, in Shiraz, Persia (now Iran), of Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, who later took the title of “the Bab,” meaning “the Gate.” The Bab was the herald of the Baha’i Faith. The day is one of the nine holy days of the year when work is suspended.
Birth of Baha’u’llah (Nov. 12): Baha’is observe the anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah (born Mirza Husayn-‘Ali) on Nov. 12, 1817, in Tehran, Persia (now Iran). Baha’u’llah, which means the “Glory of God,” is the founder of the Baha’i Faith. It is one of the nine holy days of the year when work is suspended.
Day of the Covenant (Nov. 26): The festival commemorates Baha’u’llah’s appointment of his eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, as the Center of His Covenant.
Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Nov 28): Baha’is observe the anniversary of the death of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, son of Baha’u’llah and His appointed succesor, on Nov 28, 1921 in Haifa, in what is now northern Israel.