It’s that time of year again, and I am thrilled to partner with Creative World of Varya bring you this wonderful Ayyam-i-Ha giveaway! We are so pleased to be able to offer you 3 fabulous prize packages – each including a copy of our book!
Disclosure: I received complimentary products from Delightful Design LLC; however, all opinions are my own.
One of the delights of having children is getting to celebrate holidays with them. It is enchanting to see the world through their eyes as they experience the magic of special days, and it is so fun to be a part of making that magic happen.
However, as a member of a minority religion (the Bahá’í Faith), that loving duty to create a festive home for our holidays weighs on me a bit more heavily. My children are aware that though we honor the holidays of other religions, we don’t celebrate them in the same way. To a child, of course, the most critical (and troublesome) aspects of this are that we have no Christmas tree in December, no Santa coming down the chimney to deliver gifts.
Still, when you’re the only family on your street celebrating (or the only kid in your class), for a child it can sometimes feel like the celebration is a bit thin.
So we do our best to make up the difference by making it as festive a time as possible. I have already strung up our countdown chain, and every morning during Ayyám-i-Há I’ll fill their little star stockings with treats, in addition to wrapping a few larger presents to open in the evening.
But what really signals that we are in a holiday season is hanging up decorations.
If you are thinking that all this sounds like a lot of work – you’re right! And if you’re wondering where a mother of two small children – who also blogs and home schools – finds time to do this, I’d tell you the truth, which is that most of the time I don’t. My dear sister gave us wonderful handmade flower chains that I hang every year, but otherwise I don’t do anything else in the way of decorating.
Until this year.
Last month Melissa of Delightful Design LLC (see their listing in the Ayyám-i-Há Gift Guide!) was kind enough to send me complimentary decorations from her amazing Etsy shop. They are so beautiful and fun! And – importantly for me – so EASY to put together!
Delightful Design carries everything from garlands to posters to interactive calendars for kids (in English and Spanish!) – all specially designed for Bahá’í holidays. As someone who grew up without any such items available for sale, I am amazed and grateful to have such creative, enterprising people out there!
And did I mention how EASY the decorations are to do? Each product comes with a set of easy to follow instructions, which consist of only a few simple steps. For example, with the banner (pictured here), all I had to do was print, cut, and string it up with some ribbon!
So be sure to check out this wonderful company! But be warned – you will have trouble choosing from all their super cool products, each made in numerous beautiful variations. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
How do you make your home festive for special holidays?
I am proud to announce that my Ayyam-i-Ha Gift Guide has now been updated! Stop by to discover wonderful businesses with unique products, plus family service project ideas and tutorials for homemade crafts!
One of my favorite crafts that I have done with Monkey was the bell craft we did several years ago for the Bahá’í holy day Birth of Bahá’u’lláh. It was partially based on the Bahá’í children’s song celebrating this holiday, which mentions ringing bells and playing trumpets to mark the joyous occasion.
So this year I decided we should do a trumpet craft!
Cardboard tube (we used a paper towel roll)
Paints, stickers, etc
The boys are always using empty cardboard rolls as horns, so it seemed natural to start with that as the foundation.
Little Monkey was hesitant at first but soon had a lot of fun using finger paints to decorate his.
I cut a cone our of poster board and let him decorate that as well.
After the paint had dried, I closed the cone with tape and attached it to the cardboard roll. The main problem I had was getting some good photos of the finished product, as they had trouble holding still – it’s a fun toy to move with!
Happy Birth of Bahá’u’lláh to those celebrating next week!
Here is a simple but fun game to reinforce virtues like kindness and generosity. For the past year I have been helping teach character-building classes for Monkey and several friends. I wanted a fun way to review the lessons we had already learned, and I know from experience that this group of 4 and 5 year olds learns best by doing.
So here is a “gate” game, inspired by the upcoming Bahá’í holiday the Birth of the Báb. I wanted to reinforce the symbolism of the Báb as the Gate for Bahá’u’lláh, but it’s a fun activity for kids of any background, since who doesn’t want to be a gatekeeper for their friends??
Character Building Game: How to Play
One child stands at the front with his/her hands out to the sides, like a gate (in a doorway if possible!) Then s/he gives clues (either verbally or with charades) about a particular virtue, like generosity or patience. (For young children, an adult or older child can help). The other children try to correctly guess the virtue in order to be allowed through the “gate.” The first through the gate becomes the new gatekeeper.
For older children, you could make the game more challenging by not allowing them to use common words as clues for particular virtues. So for “patience,” for example, you might forbid the gatekeeper to say “waiting” or “time.” You could also challenge the other children to recite a piece of Scripture about that virtue in order to get through the gate.
For Bahá’ís, you could have the gatekeeper give clues about people from Bahá’í history, like Martha Root or Tahirih!
July 27, 2014The FastComments Off on My First Fast: A Baha’i Perspective | Interfaith Ramadan Series
Lost in the noise of media hype and extremists of every stripe is the undeniable fact that there are many commonalities among the religions of the world. In recognition of this truth, my friend Sarah from Hotchpotch Hijabi in Italy has created a wonderful Interfaith Ramadan series, as a way to bring together people of faith, despite our differences.
I am proud to be a part of such an amazing endeavor with this essay on when I first participated in the Bahá’í Fast as a teenager. Be prepared for some teenage melodrama mixed in with a touch of enlightenment:
It’s hard to believe that Ridván is almost over! We have enjoyed our new decorations this year and as always have fun saying prayers and hanging out in our Ridván tent.
Today we are meeting some friends for a picnic in a local rose garden (yes, we are going crazy for roses!), so I wanted to make a special treat.
I fell in love with these adorable Easter egg sugar cookies I saw on Pinterest and was inspired to adapt her recipe to make – you guessed it! – rose cookies. I was so happy with how they came out, in terms of looks and taste, and my Monkey tester approved as well! (Little Monkey was more interested in smashing it to bits in his high chair, but perhaps I offered it too close to his nap time!)
These are super easy to make, and you will feel like a rock star!
Follow her easy recipe (I followed a suggestion from ALLterNATIVE learning and substituted coconut oil for some of the butter – it added a wonderfully light coconut flavor!), but make your coils shorter and pinch the tops to make a gentle peak. Coil them into circles to make the rose shapes – easy and so pretty!
Bake as per her instructions, let cool, and enjoy!
The Festival of Ridván is approaching, and each year I try to make it special for my kids. This year, in addition to making a Ridván tent, I thought we should do some other decorations. Since Ridván commemorates the time that Bahá’u’lláh spent in the Ridván Gardens outside of Baghdad, I wanted to do something with flowers.
Monkey loves play dough, so I thought he would really enjoy making salt dough ornaments – and boy, did he! (Once I was able to tear him away from his Legos, of course). The only problem was convincing him that we couldn’t eat them once they were done cooking 🙂
Monkey had fun rolling out the dough and doing the shapes with cookie cutters. For the Bahá’ís in the audience, yes, you did spy some nine-pointed stars in there! Those super cool nine-pointed star cookie cutters were an Ayyám-i-Há gift from Grandma this year from Special Ideas!
While Monkey worked the cookie cutters (and Baby played with some of the dough), I decided to try to make some roses to set on the counters. You can find tutorials online to make beautiful, realistic roses, but I was looking for something easy that I could make while looking after my two little guys.
I used a technique similar to what I have seen others do to make paper roses: I cut a long strip out of the dough then rolled it up and pinched together the bottom. They won’t win any contests, but Monkey took one look and said, “They’re pretty, Mommy.” What more could a mama ask for?
Once we were done, the ornaments went into the oven to bake on 25o F for just over two hours. (Don’t forget to use a straw to make the holes so you can hang the ornaments later!)
After they had cooled, it was time to paint! Monkey was very enthusiastic about this part as well. I had in mind to do lots of pretty spring colors, but Monkey had other ideas. Right away he spotted brown paint and declared he wanted to paint only with brown. I decided to go with it, since the decorations were for him, after all – and because I had just realized how low we were on acrylic paints, meaning that I would need to use every spare drop we had, even the brown. (For the record, he said he was making “chocolate” flowers).
As it turned out, Monkey did move on to other colors – and we did run out of acrylic paint. Luckily we had some finger paints, which worked out fine, although they are not as bright as the acrylics.
We left them to dry overnight then in the morning threaded some pretty ribbon through the holes and hung up our spring banner. I was happy with how it turned out but was over the moon with how excited the boys were about it. Baby couldn’t stop pointing and “talking” about it, and Monkey kept dancing around shouting “Ornaments! Ornaments!”
Happy Ridván to those of you celebrating, and to the rest, Happy Spring!
From March 2 to March 20, adult Bahá’ís in good health observe a fast in preparation for our new year (Naw Rúz) on March 21. Today I am so pleased to share with you this post from my friend Chelsea, of Enable Me to Grow about an activity to share the spirit of the Fast with young children. For more ideas, you can also see our Fast Challenge Bag and follow our Bahá’í Parenting board on Pinterest.
Several years ago, I brainstormed some ideas about family traditions we might like to start during the Fast. I wanted it to be something the kid(s) could look forward to that makes the Fast a special time, and also some way they can be more involved in the Fast before they can physically fast themselves (at age 15). Here is an easy project that only took a couple nights to complete.
First of all, the inspiration for this project was from a lovely tradition where the family lit a candle for each night of the Fast (one candle on the first night, two on the second, and so on), so that by the last night there was a lovely arrangement of candles to mark the end of the Fast and the beginning of Naw Rúz.
I loved this idea. However, seeing as it doesn’t get dark during Fasting time until maybe 9 pm (and my son goes to bed at 7), I decided to modify it a bit and make a “Fasting Tree” using flowers instead of candles.
The day before the Fast starts, we collect sticks for the “tree”, which we put in a vase on the mantlepeice. Then during family prayers on each morning of the Fast, we place one flower ornament on the tree so that by Naw Rúz there are 19 flowers.
I used store bought flowers in the interest of time, although felted flowers would also be lovely. I used these Frangipanis, which reminded me of being at the Shrine of the Báb, since there was a Frangipani tree nearby.
I simply cut up the flowers as necessary and used green and yellow pipe cleaners I had already to make an easy way for them to attach to the sticks.
In order to help remind us of the purpose of the Fast, I added a short quotation about the Fast on a leaf for each flower so that we can discuss the quote on the ornament during family prayers. For a full list of the quotations, see the end of this blog post.
I cut the leaves out of construction paper. To make them more sturdy you could laminate them or use packing tape on each side. Then I punched a hole in order for the leaf to attach on to the pipe cleaner. I attached the leaves which came with the flowers back onto the pipe cleaner, so that it will help the paper leaf stay on.
Here’s the finished box of flowers.
By Naw Rúz we will have a lovely tree full of flowers!
Quotations used for our Fasting Tree:
“We have ordained obligatory prayer and fasting so that all may by these means draw nigh unto God”
“We have forbidden men from following whatsoever might cause them to stray from the Truth”
“We…have commanded them to observe that which will draw them nearer unto Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Loving.”
“Cling firmly to obligatory prayer and fasting.”
“Verily, the religion of God is like unto heaven; fasting is its sun, and obligatory prayer is its moon”
“Observe ye the commandments of God for love of His beauty”
“We beseech God to assist His people that they may observe the most great and exalted Fast”
“protect one’s eye from beholding whatever is forbidden”
“withhold one’s self from food, drink and whatever is not of Him”
“Fast ye for the sake of your Lord, the Mighty, the Most High.”
“Restrain yourselves from sunrise to sunset.”
“Well is it with the one who fulfilleth My decrees for the love of My Beauty”
“We, verily, have commanded all to observe the Fast in these days as a bounty on Our part”
“His Law is a fortress unto you, could ye but understand.”
“Cling ye to the cord of God’s laws”
“fasting and obligatory prayer constitute the two mightiest pillars of God’s holy Law”
“Fasting and obligatory prayer are as two wings to man’s life.”
“Act ye in accordance with what ye have been commanded in the Book.”
“It is not for anyone to exceed the limits laid down by God and His law, nor should anyone follow his own idle imaginings.”
Chelsea Lee Smith is a mother of two and is passionate about empowering families with tools for character education so that they can contribute to making the world a better place. She blogs at Enable Me To Grow offering activities, ideas and resources for character building and more.
It is exciting to see how the exchange has grown since it began last year. At that time we had 63 children from 16 countries participate. This year – 181 children from 23 countries: Australia, Austria, Cambodia, Canada, China, England, Fiji, Germany, Gibraltar, Guyana, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Ireland, Kenya, Kosovo, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Tonga, UK, and USA. So exciting!
As it happened, my Monkeys were paired with children in Germany. We had fun making simple cards to send to these new friends, plus – though it wasn’t required – we made some spring flowers to include.
The Bahá’í new year falls on the first day of spring in many parts of the world, so I thought it would be fun to include a spring flower. Last year we did California poppies, and this year we did another of my favorite flowers – tulips!
For this I had Monkey paint popsicle sticks for the stems. Then he glued on the petals I had cut out ahead of time.
Such a simple craft, but so much fun, and I thought the end product was very sweet. Hopefully our new friends in Germany will enjoy them as much as we did!
For more fun spring crafts and activities, be sure to follow our Spring Pinterest board!
How are you getting ready for spring? Have you ever participated in a card exchange?