Whitsuntide n : Christian holiday; the week beginning on Whitsunday (especially the first 3 days) [syn: Whitsun, Whitweek]
Pentecost ( , pentekostē [hēmera], "the fiftieth day") is one of the prominent feasts in the Christian liturgical year, celebrated the 49th day (7 weeks) after Easter Sunday (the tenth day after Ascension Thursday). Historically and symbolically related to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot, it commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the Book of Acts, Chapter . Pentecost is also called Whitsun, Whitsunday, or Whit Sunday, especially in the United Kingdom.
EtymologyPentecost is derived from the Greek name for Shavuot, one of the three Pilgrimage Festivals required in the Law of Moses. It is described mainly in Bible verse |Leviticus|23:5-21|KJV and Bible verse |Deuteronomy|16:8-10|KJV. As in Leviticus the Pesah (Passover) begins "in the fourteenth day of the first month (14 Nisan) at even", and the next day begins "the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord" which lasts for seven days (servile work being prohibited). This celebration also marks the beginning of harvest activities (in a Mediterranean climate), therefore "a sheaf of the firstfruits" of the harvest will be waved by the priest before Yahweh "on the morrow after the sabbath". Then, verses 15 and 16 state:
And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:/ Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbaths shall ye number fifty days (Hebrew: hamishshim yom; Greek: , pentekonta hemeras) and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.
The "new dairy offering" consisted of two loaves made from the new wheat (to be waved). Sacrifices for the feast consisted of "seven lambs without blemish of the first year", one young bullock, two rams (this is the burnt offering), the sacrifice of "one kid of the goats for a sin offering", and "two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings". This hamishshim yom or pentekonta hemeras marked the end of the harvest. On the other hand, Deuteronomy (16:8-10) states:
Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work therein./ Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number seven weeks from such time as thou beginest to put the sickle unto the corn./ And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks [Hebrew: Chag shavuot; Greek: , heorten hebdomadon] unto the Lord thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.
The Hebrew name khag shavuot became the best-known name of the feast, while the Greek heorte hebdomadon remains practically unknown. The feast is also named in Hebrew texts khag hakatsir (feast of the harvest) and yom habbikurim (day of the first fruits).
The date of Pesah was changed during history in the month Nisan, but the procedure of calculating khag shavuot remained the same. However, a debate ignited between Sadducees and Pharisees regarding this procedure. The debate was due to the interpretation of the words "the morrow after the sabbath". The Sadducees considered the sabbath as the usual weekly day and, therefore, calculated the date of Pentecost as the fiftieth day from the Sunday after passover, a formula used today by the Christian Church. The Pharisees decoded the word "sabbath" from Leviticus 23:15 as referring to the first day of "the feast of unleavened bread", which was, at that time, 15 Nisan. Therefore, they numbered fifty days from 16 Nisan, no matter what day of the week it was. Their formula is currently used in the practice of Judaism.
Because this feast marks the end of harvesting, it is not exclusively linked to agriculture. It is a feast celebrating the relation between the deity Yahweh and his worshippers. but we can note that the quoted Biblical texts are addressed to an agricultural civilization.
WhitsunPentecost is also known as "Whitsun" (or "Whit Sunday") in the United Kingdom. The week beginning on Whit Sunday is called "Whitsuntide" (formerly also spelled "Whitsontide") or "Whitsun Week". The term is derived from Middle English whitsonday, from Old English hwīta sunnandæg, "White Sunday", in reference to the white ceremonial robes formally worn on this day. An alternative derivation is from "Wit" or "Wisdom" Sunday, the day when the Apostles were filled with wisdom by the Holy Spirit.
"This day is called Wytsonday because the Holy Ghost brought wytte and wisdom into Christis disciples … and filled them full of ghostly wytte." — In die Pentecostis
In the Roman Catholic Christian tradition, the Holy Wisdom of God (Hagia Sophia in Greek) is a divine attribute in which new Christians share to some degree through the sacrament of Confirmation (Confirmation not being a Sacrament in reformed traditions), when they receive the Holy Spirit and share in Pentecost. Many churches are dedicated to it, the most famous being Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (Constantinople). It is sometimes associated with a sainted martyr of the same name, Saint Sophia, whose daughters are Faith, Hope and Charity. Many icons depict the four together.
It has also been suggested that "Whitsun" means simply "White Sunday" because, "(i)n the Primitive Church the newly-baptised wore white during the Easter Octave and were called albati ("white-robed"). They laid aside their white vestments the Sunday after Easter, which was therefore called "Dominica in albis depositis." However, for the Solemnity of Pentecost, they put on their white baptismal garments one final time. Thus it too became a "Dominica in Albis" ("Sunday in White" or Whit Sunday. Note however that the priests' and deacons' vestments on this Feast are red for the Holy Spirit, not white.
The only two other Germanic languages to name this holiday 'Whitsunday' are Faroese and Icelandic, where it is called Hvítusunnudagur and Hvítasunnudagur (White-Sunday), respectively. It and the following Monday, which is called Annar hvítusunnudagur and Annar hvítasunnudagur (2nd White-Sunday), respectively, are both official holidays in the Faroe Islands and Iceland. Welsh, a Celtic language, refers to it as Y Sulgwyn (Sul: Sunday; gwyn: white).
SignificanceDuring history, the Pentecost has acquired great meanings. The Rabbinic Judaism (Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim, 68b; Midrash, Tanhuma, 26c) commemorated through khag shavuot the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, because, according to Bible verse |Exodus|19:1|KJV, this event took place on the fiftieth day after the departure from Egypt. Some Christians place on the day of Pentecost the birth of the Church, a phenomenon characterized by the Descent of the Holy Spirit. The harvest itself can be a metaphor of the Final Judgement, as shown by Jesus in Bible verse |Matthew|9:37-38|KJV:
Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;/ Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.
Christians believe Pentecost to be a powerful feast of salvation, because it speaks about the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, about the founding of the Church, and about the Final Judgement. Pentecost is a parallel to Shavout, as Easter is to Passover. According to the Bible, on Passover, the Jews were delivered from slavery in Egypt; on Easter, mankind was delivered from slavery to sin; on Shavout, the Children of Israel received the "Law"; on Pentecost, the Church received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
According to the practice of numerology, hamishshim yom is day 7²+1. 7² points to the Creation after eschaton, i.e. the "new heaven" and the "new earth" from Revelation 21:1; while the +1 shows who is involved in the process: Yahweh, the Lord of the covenant (the mûlâ, In the Jewish tradition, circumcision (which is "a token of the covenant) must be done on the 7+1th day from birth). In the Christian tradition, Yahweh (the Lord of the covenant), resurrected Jesus on the 7+1th day of the week.
According to the Bible, the events experienced by the Apostles in Jerusalem during khag shavuot were believed by the Apostles to be the sending of the Holy Ghost, which had been promised by Jesus (Bible verse |John|14:26|KJV):
But the Comforter [παράκλητος], which is the Holy Ghost [το πνευμα το ‘άγιον], Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
The Bible states that the Apostles believed that what happened to them was a descent of the Holy Spirit. Thus, in his sermon, Peter quotes the 2nd chapter of the Book of Joel. There are three major prophetic texts which speak about the descent of the Holy Spirit: Bible verse |Ezekiel|36:27|KJV, Bible verse |Isaiah|44:3|KJV and Joel 3:1-5 (KJV has Bible verse |Joel|2:28-32|KJV). The Christian dogma (based upon Bible verse |John|14:20|KJV) affirms that the Descent of the Holy Spirit signifies the extension of the divine body of Christ in all the believers, since it is the last fundamental act of objective salvation (the salvation of mankind). Joel closely links this phenomenon to the eschaton (the end of the world) Peter quoted Joel:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:/ And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My spirit./ And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke./ The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come./ And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
Descent of the Holy Spirit
In the biblical account, the events took place on the day of the Pentecost, in Jerusalem, at 09:00 ("the third hour of the day", according to Jewish timekeeping). The community of Christ's disciples, approximately 120 people, was gathered "into an upper room" in a building that Tradition locates on Mount Zion. The Tradition also says that it was the same room where Jesus ate His Last Supper. The phenomenon is described in Bible verse |Acts|2:1-4|KJV:
- And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all
with one accord in one place.
- And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
- And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
- And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
- And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
The phrase "a rushing mighty wind" is almost a literal translation of the Hebrew word ruah, meaning in Hebrew texts the Spirit of God. Believers hold that the experience is a powerful mystic one, hence the sensation of sacred possession (misinterpreted by passers-by as drunkenness) and the advent of supernatural gifts: the speaking with other tongues (glossolalia) and prophesying. During the Apostolic times, many of the people who received Christian baptism were purported to have experienced the same extraordinary gifts. Therefore, according to some, the real Christian baptism is a personal Pentecost.
Baptism of the three-thousand
According to the Book of Acts, the experience of the Pentecost was noticed by all in the large crowd, causing confusion and awe.
When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language…. Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? …Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" Bible verse |Acts|2:6-12|KJV
Then the Apostle Peter, standing with the eleven other apostles, spoke to the crowd. He explained that these strange events had been predicted by the prophet Joel, and that Jesus' resurrection from the dead and exaltation to heaven had been prophesied by David. Peter explained that these events confirmed David's prophecy. Peter then exhorted his listeners to turn to Christ. When Peter was asked what men should do he responded by saying "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." About three thousand responded to Peter's sermon and were baptized and were therefore "added" to the number of believers or the church.
Traditions and holidays
- In Lebanon, Pentecost usually signals the end of the cold season. After mass, families head out to the wilderness or to the pine forests or olive groves to picnic and enjoy the spring weather. Swings are tied to olive, pine or cedar branches and children enjoy riding them all day.
- In Denmark, it is rarely celebrated elaborately. However, it is still celebrated as a public holiday, and children have the following day off from school. Many Danes, especially youths, do not know the meaning of Pentecost.
- In certain states of Germany, such as the predominantly Catholic states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, depending on when a school began classes for the year, Pentecost can be a two week break for students similar to a Spring break in the United States.
- In Italy it was customary to scatter rose petals from the ceiling of the churches to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues; hence in Sicily and elsewhere in Italy Whitsunday is called Pasqua rosatum. The Italian name Pasqua rossa comes from the red colours of the vestments used on Whitsunday.
- In France it was customary to blow trumpets during Divine service, to recall the sound of the mighty wind which accompanied the Descent of the Holy Spirit.
- In England the gentry amused themselves with horse races. The Whitsun Ales or merrymakings are almost wholly obsolete in England. At these ales the Whitsun plays were performed. In the old industrial heartlands of the North of England, in particular Greater Manchester, the first Friday after Pentecost is known as Whit Friday and is marked by Whit Walks and is often the occasion for brass band competitions.
- In Poland the Pentecost is called "the Green Holiday" - people decorate their houses with green branches, which - according to tradition - are said to bring God's blessing upon the home and the people living in it. Another custom, which is slowly becoming rare, is making processions to the fields, where the crops are blessed.
- In Ukraine, Pentecost is called "Green Sunday". The inside of the church is covered with fresh branches of green deciduous trees. Green branches are also placed on the outside banisters and doors of the church and people also place a green branch on the door of their homes. Clergy and altar boys also wear green vestments as do many in the congregation. This custom comes from the fact that on Pentecost 3000 people were baptized into the new faith. Green symbolizes new life and Pentecost is thought to be the birthday of the church.
- In the Netherlands Pentecost is called "Pinksteren", and the Monday after is a national holiday. Since that Monday is the last holiday before Christmas, and the only one with a good chance to have decent weather, it is traditionally a day where fairs and festivals are held; most notably, Pinkpop, which derives part of its name from the Dutch name for Pentecost (Pinksteren).
- In the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches, Pentecost is one of the 12 Great Feasts of the church year, and is second in importance only to Pascha (Easter). It is celebrated with an All-Night Vigil on the Eve of the Feast and Divine Liturgy on the day of the Feast. An extraordinary service called the Kneeling Prayer, is served on the night of Pentecost. This is a Vespers service to which are added three sets of long poetical prayers, the composition of Saint Basil the Great, during which everyone makes a full prostration, touching their foreheads to the floor (prostrations in church having been forbidden from the day of Pascha (Easter) up to this point). The churches are decorated with greenery, and among the Russians the clergy and faithful carry flowers and green branches in their hands during the services. Pentecost is a traditional time for baptisms. The week prior to the feast is known as "green week", during which all manner of plants and herbs are gathered. The Sunday of Pentecost is called "Trinity Sunday," the next day is called "Monday of the Holy Spirit," and Tuesday of Pentecost week is called the "Third Day of the Trinity." The Eastern Orthodox church considers the whole week following Pentecost to be an ecclesiastical feast (see Afterfeast) and is a fast-free week. The second Monday after Pentecost is the beginning of the Apostles' Fast (which continues until the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29). Theologically, Orthodox do not consider Pentecost to be the "birthday" of the Church; they see the Church as having existed before the creation of the world (cf. The Shepherd of Hermas) The Orthodox icon of the feast depicts the Twelve Apostles seated in a semi-circle (sometimes the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) is shown sitting in the center of them). At the top of the icon, the Holy Spirit, in the form of tongues of fire, is descending upon them. At the bottom is an allegorical figure, called Kosmos, which symbolizes the world. Although Kosmos is crowned with glory he sits in the darkness caused by the ignorance of God. He is holding a towel on which have been placed 12 scrolls, representing the teaching of the Twelve Apostles.
- In Sweden Pentecost is celebrated rarely. The Saturday is called "Pentecost Eve," and the following Sunday "Pentecost Day." The Monday is called "Second Pentecost Day," but since 2005, it is no longer a public holiday. The National Holiday - 6th June - was made a "Red Day" instead. "Red Days" are so called because the dates of holidays are coloured with red on Swedish calendars.
The following Monday is a holiday in much of Europe. The day is known as Whit Monday in England, Wales, and Ireland, and is also celebrated in Iceland, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, parts of Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Hungary. Since 1967, however, Whit Monday has not been a public holiday in the United Kingdom; the holiday has been moved to the fixed date of the last Monday in May, which sometimes but by no means always coincides with Whit Monday. Whit Monday also ceased to be a statutory holiday in France in 2005, where the abolishment led to strong protests. Also in Sweden Whit Monday is no longer a holiday and June 6 (Swedish National Day) has become a day off. The ultimate origin of all customs associating Pentecost with greenery is ostensibly the Jewish holiday of Shavuot when it is customary to decorate synagogues with greenery. This holiday marks the time when Moses received the Torah on Mount Sinai on behalf of the Nation of Israel, and tradition holds that Mount Sinai, despite being in the wilderness of the Sinai desert, miraculously flowered and bloomed in honor of this occasion. The custom of decorating synagogues with greenery on Shavuot, mentioned in many halakhic works, commemorates the miracle, and may perhaps date back to the time of the Jewish Temple. The Mishna records that the Oxen leading the processions bringing "first fruits" to the Temple (which began on Shavuot) wore wreaths of Olive branches on their heads. (Bikkurim 3:3) While there are no mishnaic sources for the Temple itself having been decorated with greenery at that time, the Tractate of Midot records there having been one band of flowery engravings surrounding the altar, which may be connected with commemorating the same miracle. What's more, there is no Talmudic record of what was done with the said wreaths following the slaughtering of the oxen. It would seem quite probable that the wreaths would have remained ad loc, decorating the area, in one sense or another.
Whitsunday remains one of the Scottish term days, at which debts are paid and leases traditionally expire, but this Scottish Whitsunday is now always considered to fall on May 15.
Ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood are often held on Pentecost.
DatePentecost falls on the same fixed calendar date every year, and is part of the Moveable Cycle of the ecclesiastical year. According to Christian tradition, Pentecost is always seven weeks after Easter Sunday; that is to say, 50 days after Easter (inclusive of Easter Day). Said otherwise, it falls on the eighth Sunday, counting Easter Day (see article on Computus for the calculation of the date of Easter). Pentecost falls in mid- to late spring in the Northern Hemisphere and mid- to late autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
Since the date of Easter is calculated differently in the North and the South, see Easter controversy, the two traditions will celebrate the feast on different days most years (though in some years both celebrations will coincide on the same day, as in 2007). The earliest possible date in the West is May 10 (as in 1818 and 2285), and latest possible date is June 13 (as in 1943 and 2038). In the East, the earliest possible date is May 24, and the latest possible date is June 27.
Whitsuntide in Afrikaans: Pinkster
Whitsuntide in Aragonese: Pentecosta
Whitsuntide in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Тройца (сьвята)
Whitsuntide in Bulgarian: Петдесетница
Whitsuntide in Catalan: Pentecosta
Whitsuntide in Czech: Letnice
Whitsuntide in Danish: Pinse
Whitsuntide in Pennsylvania German: Pingschtfescht
Whitsuntide in German: Pfingsten
Whitsuntide in Estonian: Nelipüha
Whitsuntide in Modern Greek (1453-): Πεντηκοστή
Whitsuntide in Spanish: Pentecostés
Whitsuntide in Esperanto: Pentekosto
Whitsuntide in Basque: Mendekoste
Whitsuntide in French: Pentecôte
Whitsuntide in Western Frisian: Pinkster
Whitsuntide in Korean: 성령강림주일
Whitsuntide in Croatian: Duhovi (blagdan)
Whitsuntide in Indonesian: Pentakosta
Whitsuntide in Icelandic: Hvítasunnudagur
Whitsuntide in Italian: Pentecoste
Whitsuntide in Hebrew: פנטקוסט
Whitsuntide in Swahili (macrolanguage): Pentekoste
Whitsuntide in Latin: Pentecostes
Whitsuntide in Luxembourgish: Päischten
Whitsuntide in Lithuanian: Sekminės
Whitsuntide in Limburgan: Pinkstere
Whitsuntide in Lingala: Pantekote
Whitsuntide in Hungarian: Pünkösd
Whitsuntide in Macedonian: Педесетница
Whitsuntide in Mongolian: Пентекост
Whitsuntide in Dutch: Pinksteren
Whitsuntide in Dutch Low Saxon: Pinkster
Whitsuntide in Japanese: ペンテコステ
Whitsuntide in Norwegian: Pinse
Whitsuntide in Norwegian Nynorsk: Pinse
Whitsuntide in Low German: Pingsten
Whitsuntide in Polish: Zesłanie Ducha Świętego
Whitsuntide in Portuguese: Pentecostes
Whitsuntide in Kölsch: Pingste
Whitsuntide in Romanian: Rusalii
Whitsuntide in Quechua: Pintikustis
Whitsuntide in Russian: День Святой Троицы
Whitsuntide in Albanian: Rrëshajët
Whitsuntide in Simple English: Pentecost
Whitsuntide in Slovak: Turíce
Whitsuntide in Slovenian: Binkošti
Whitsuntide in Serbian: Духови (празник)
Whitsuntide in Finnish: Helluntai
Whitsuntide in Swedish: Pingst
Whitsuntide in Vietnamese: Lễ Thất Tuần
Whitsuntide in Turkish: Pentekost
Whitsuntide in Ukrainian: День святої Трійці
Whitsuntide in Contenese: 五旬節
Whitsuntide in Chinese: 五旬節
Advent, Allhallowmas, Allhallows, Allhallowtide, Annunciation, Annunciation Day, Ascension Day, Ash Wednesday, Candlemas, Candlemas Day, Carnival, Christmas, Corpus Christi, Easter, Easter Monday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday, Eastertide, Ember days, Epiphany, Good Friday, Halloween, Hallowmas, Holy Thursday, Holy Week, Lady Day, Lammas, Lammas Day, Lammastide, Lent, Lententide, Mardi Gras, Martinmas, Maundy Thursday, Michaelmas, Michaelmas Day, Michaelmastide, Palm Sunday, Pancake Day, Passion Week, Pentecost, Quadragesima, Quadragesima Sunday, Septuagesima, Shrove Tuesday, Trinity Sunday, Twelfth-day, Twelfth-tide, Whit-Tuesday, White Sunday, Whitmonday, Whitsun, Whitsunday, Whitweek