The Jones Family’s Baháʼí Holidays

The Baháʼí Holidays, as celebrated by the Jones Family, are celebrations centered on food above all else. Yes, there are presents on Ayyám-i-Há. Yes, there are readings from the work of Baháʼu'lláh and others whenever appropriate. But with a family spread out across the globe from Maine in the eastern United States to Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean out west, the Joneses take every opportunity they are together to share the recipes they’ve collected since the last time they were all in the same place at the same time.

 

The Whatkinda Faith Now?

According to Wikipedia, which is never wrong, the Baháʼí Faith “is a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity of all people.” Though they were each raised by Protestant parents, Arthur Worthing and Jane Jones became Baháʼís as young adults and in fact met each other through their connection to the religion. It was only natural then that they would raise their two children as Baháʼís, and that Jones would raise the children she had with her next two husbands in the same way.

 

The Food During Ayyám-i-Há

The Baháʼí calendar is comprised of nineteen months with each nineteen days each, plus a four- to five-day intercalary period at the end of February in the common calendar. During this intercalary period, known as Ayyám-i-Há, the Jones family exchanges gifts and comes together for the first of their all-family feasts for the year. The meal is themed, with each family member bringing a dish that at least loosely fits in the theme. Keaton Michaels always finds a way to bring pizza, and his rationale for doing so is one of the highlights of the event each year.

 

The Food During The Fast

The family fasts from sunrise to sundown for the nineteen days following Ayyám-i-Há, as is traditional for Baháʼís. The family living in Maine and neighboring New Hampshire gather each night to share a recipe they’ve gathered over the preceding year, each family member cooking in a rotation. Jenna Worthing and her husband Michael Silver try to join whenever they can, but sometimes Michael is unable to extend his spring break to allow for it and they are back in Hawaii at this point. If that’s the case, the family video-conferences for Jenna’s meal—late at night for Jenna and Michael and early in the morning for the family back east.

 

The Naw Rúz Cake

When Mellie Worthing’s first daughter was due to celebrate her 1st birthday in 2007 and Mellie’s husband Alasdair bought too much cake mix, the family’s most recent tradition was born. The kiddo’s birthday was near enough to the Baháʼí new year that Mellie and Alasdair used the leftover cake mix to bake a cake for Naw Rúz. The family was so delighted by the icing done in Alasdair’s unsteady hand that they demanded he do the same the next year, and every year after that.

 

Jade’s Teasing

Jade Green, the only non-practicing Baháʼí in the family, delights in “torturing” his family members with Instagram posts of his elaborate lunches during the fast. But though the practice began during a time of estrangement between Jade and the rest, it is now as welcome a tradition as everything else listed above. They see the teasing now as a show of affection, and often tease him back by challenging him to one-up himself the next time around. After all, he’s the busiest of the kids—the one who forgot how to take care of himself for a long time—and to see him taking the time to treat himself well every day is most welcome indeed to those who love him.

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