Pentecost
Overview
 
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 liturgical year
Liturgical year
The liturgical year, also known as the church year, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches which determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read. Distinct liturgical colours may appear in...

 commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 upon the disciples
Disciple (Christianity)
In Christianity, the disciples were the students of Jesus during his ministry. While Jesus attracted a large following, the term disciple is commonly used to refer specifically to "the Twelve", an inner circle of men whose number perhaps represented the twelve tribes of Israel...

 of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

. The feast is also called Whit Sunday, Whitsun, or Whit, especially in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, where the following Monday
Whit Monday
Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday is the holiday celebrated the day after Pentecost, a movable feast in the Christian calendar. It is movable because it is determined by the date of Easter....

 was traditionally a holiday. Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks (50 days) after Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 Sunday, hence its name.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 liturgical year
Liturgical year
The liturgical year, also known as the church year, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches which determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read. Distinct liturgical colours may appear in...

 commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 upon the disciples
Disciple (Christianity)
In Christianity, the disciples were the students of Jesus during his ministry. While Jesus attracted a large following, the term disciple is commonly used to refer specifically to "the Twelve", an inner circle of men whose number perhaps represented the twelve tribes of Israel...

 of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

. The feast is also called Whit Sunday, Whitsun, or Whit, especially in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, where the following Monday
Whit Monday
Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday is the holiday celebrated the day after Pentecost, a movable feast in the Christian calendar. It is movable because it is determined by the date of Easter....

 was traditionally a holiday. Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks (50 days) after Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 Sunday, hence its name. Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday.

Among Christians, Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Twelve apostles and other followers of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 as described in the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 2:1-31. For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described as the "Birthday of the Church."

The Pentecostal movement of Christianity derives its name from the New Testament event.

Old Testament

Pentecost is the old Greek and Latin name for the Jewish harvest festival
Harvest festival
A Harvest Festival is an annual celebration which occurs around the time of the main harvest of a given region. Given the differences in climate and crops around the world, harvest festivals can be found at various times throughout the world...

, or Festival of Weeks (Hebrew חג השבועותHag haShavuot
Shavuot
The festival of is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan ....

or Shevuot, literally "Festival of Weeks"), which commemorates God giving the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

 at Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai , also known as Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gabal Musa , Jabal Musa meaning "Moses' Mountain", is a mountain near Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. A mountain called Mount Sinai is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah and the Bible as well as the Quran...

 fifty days after the Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

.

New Testament

The biblical narrative of Pentecost is given in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. As recounted in Acts 2:1-6:
While those on whom the Spirit had descended were speaking in tongues, the disciple Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 stood up with the eleven
Apostle (Christian)
The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος , meaning one who is sent away, from στέλλω + από . The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto + ex...

 and proclaimed to the crowd that this event was the fulfillment of the prophecy ("I will pour out my spirit") in . reports: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."

Location of the first Pentecost

Traditional interpretation holds that the Descent of the Holy Spirit took place in the Upper Room, or Cenacle
Cenacle
The Cenacle , also known as the "Upper Room", is the term used for the site of The Last Supper. The word is a derivative of the Latin word cena, which means dinner....

 while celebrating the day of Pentecost (Shavuot
Shavuot
The festival of is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan ....

). The Upper Room was first mentioned in ( "And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

."). This Upper Room was to be the location of the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

 and the institution of Holy Communion. The next mention of an Upper Room is in , the continuation of the Luke narrative, authored by the same biblical writer. Here the disciple
Disciple (Christianity)
In Christianity, the disciples were the students of Jesus during his ministry. While Jesus attracted a large following, the term disciple is commonly used to refer specifically to "the Twelve", an inner circle of men whose number perhaps represented the twelve tribes of Israel...

s and women wait and they gave themselves up to constant prayer: "And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." It is assumed then that in , "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.", "they" refers to the aforementioned disciples and women,; the "place" referring to the same Upper Room where these persons had "continued with one accord in prayer and supplication".
Alternative interpretations suggest that "the house" mentioned was in fact the House of God, Herod's Temple.

Date

Under the calendar of Ancient Israel the date of Pentecost was fifty days from First Fruits
First Fruits
First Fruits are a religious offering of the first agricultural produce of the harvest. In classical Greek, Roman, Hebrew and Christian religions, the first fruits were offered to the temple or church. First Fruits were often a primary source of income to maintain the religious leaders and the...

, though dates were disputed, as in the Dead Sea scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

.

In Christian tradition Pentecost is part of the Moveable Cycle
Paschal cycle
The Paschal cycle in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, is the cycle of the moveable feasts built around Pascha . The cycle consists of approximately ten weeks before and seven weeks after Pascha. The ten weeks before Pascha are known as the period of the Triodion...

 of the ecclesiastical year. According to Christian tradition, Pentecost is always seven weeks after Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 Sunday; that is to say, 50 days after Easter (inclusive of Easter Day). In other words, it falls on the eighth Sunday, counting Easter Day (see article on Computus
Computus
Computus is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was one of the most important computations of the age....

 for the calculation of the date of Easter).

Since the date of Easter is calculated differently in the East and West (see Easter controversy
Easter controversy
The Easter controversy is a series of controversies about the proper date to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. To date, there are four distinct historical phases of the dispute and the dispute has yet to be resolved...

), in most years the two traditions celebrate Pentecost on different days (though in some years the celebrations will coincide, as in 2010 and 2011). In the West, the earliest possible date is May 10 (as in 1818 and 2285), and the latest possible date June 13 (as in 1943 and 2038). In the East, this range of possible dates presently corresponds to May 23 through June 26 on the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

.

Eastern churches

In the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, Pentecost is one of the Orthodox Great Feasts and is considered to be the highest ranking Great Feast of the Lord, second in rank only to Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

. The service is celebrated with an All-night Vigil
All-Night Vigil
The All-Night Vigil , Opus 37, is an a cappella choral composition by Sergei Rachmaninoff,written and premiered in 1915. It consists of settings of texts taken from the Russian Orthodox All-night vigil ceremony. It has been praised as Rachmaninoff's finest achievement and "the greatest musical...

 on the eve
Eve
Eve is the first woman created by God in the Book of Genesis.Eve may also refer to:-People:*Eve , a common given name and surname*Eve , American recording artist and actress-Places:...

 of the feast day, and the Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

 on the day of the feast itself. Orthodox temples are often decorated with greenery and flowers on this feast day, and the celebration is intentionally similar to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot
Shavuot
The festival of is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan ....

, which celebrates the giving of the Mosaic Law.

The feast itself lasts three days. The first day is known as "Trinity Sunday
Trinity Sunday
Trinity Sunday is the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Western Christian liturgical calendar, and the Sunday of Pentecost in Eastern Christianity...

"; the second day is known as "Spirit Monday" (or "Monday of the Holy Spirit"); and the third day, Tuesday, is called the "Third Day of the Trinity".." The Afterfeast
Afterfeast
An Afterfeast is a period of celebration attached to one of the Great Feasts celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches ....

 of Pentecost lasts for one week, during which fasting
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

 is not permitted, even on Wednesday and Friday. In the Russian Orthodox tradition
Sacred Tradition
Sacred Tradition or Holy Tradition is a theological term used in some Christian traditions, primarily in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox traditions, to refer to the fundamental basis of church authority....

, the liturgical color used at Pentecost is green
Green
Green is a color, the perception of which is evoked by light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 520–570 nanometres. In the subtractive color system, it is not a primary color, but is created out of a mixture of yellow and blue, or yellow and cyan; it is considered...

, and the clergy and faithful carry flowers and green branches in their hands during the services.

An extraordinary service called the Kneeling Prayer, is observed 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
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 (Easter) up to this point).

All of the remaining days of the ecclesiastical year, up until the preparation for the next Great Lent
Great Lent
Great Lent, or the Great Fast, is the most important fasting season in the church year in Eastern Christianity, which prepares Christians for the greatest feast of the church year, Pascha . In many ways Great Lent is similar to Lent in Western Christianity...

 are named for the day after Pentecost on which they occur (for example, the 13th Tuesday After Pentecost).

The Second Monday after Pentecost is the beginning of the Apostles' Fast
Apostles' Fast
The Apostles' Fast, also called the Fast of the Holy Apostles, the Fast of Peter and Paul, or sometimes St. Peter's Fast, is a fast observed by Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians...

 (which continues until the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, or the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, is a liturgical feast in honour of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, which is observed on 29 June...

 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 Shepherd of Hermas
The Shepherd of Hermas is a Christian literary work of the 1st or 2nd century, considered a valuable book by many Christians, and considered canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus. The Shepherd had great authority in the 2nd and 3rd centuries...

)

The Orthodox icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

 of the feast depicts the Twelve Apostles seated in a semicircle (sometimes the Theotokos
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 (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
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 figure, called Kosmos
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

, which symbolizes the world. Although Kosmos is crowned with earthly 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 the ancient Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Pentecost is one of the seven Major “Lord’s Feasts”. It is celebrated at the time of ninth hour (3:00pm) on the Sunday of Pentecost by a special three-segment prayer known as the “Office of Genuflection (Kneeling Prayer)”. This feast is followed with the “Apostles Fast” which has a fixed end date on the fifth of the Coptic month of Epip [which currently falls on July 12, which is equivalent to June 29, due to the current 13-day Julian-Gregorian calendar offset]. The fifth of Epip is the commemoration of the Martyrdom of St. Peter and Paul. The ninth hour is the hour at which the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles according to the book of Acts Chapter 2.

Western churches

The liturgical celebrations of Pentecost in Western churches
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 are as rich and varied as those in the East. The main sign of Pentecost in the West is the color red. It symbolizes joy and the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Priests or ministers & choirs wear red vestments, and in modern times, the custom has extended to the lay people
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

 of the congregation wearing red clothing in celebration as well. Red banners are often hung from walls or ceilings to symbolize the blowing of the "mighty wind" and the free movement of the Spirit. They may depict symbols of the Holy Spirit, such as the dove or flames, symbols of the church such as Noah’s Ark and the Pomegranate
Pomegranate
The pomegranate , Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between five and eight meters tall.Native to the area of modern day Iran, the pomegranate has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. From there it spread to Asian areas such as the Caucasus as...

, or especially within Protestant churches of Reformed and Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 traditions, words rather than images naming for example, the gifts
Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are a medieval enumeration of seven spiritual gifts probably encodified by Thomas Aquinas along with five intellectual virtues and four other groups of ethical characteristics. They are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the...

 and Fruits of the Spirit. Red flowers at the altar/ preaching area, and red flowering plants such as geraniums around the church are also typical decorations for Pentecost masses/services. These symbolize the renewal of life, the coming of the warmth of summer, and the growth of the church at and from the first Pentecost. These flowers often play an important role in the ancestral rites, and other rites, of the particular congregation. For example, in both Protestant & Catholic churches, the plants brought in to decorate for the holiday may be each “sponsored” by individuals in memory of a particular loved one, or in honor of a living person on a significant occasion, such as their Confirmation day. These dedications are then printed in bulletins distributed at the service.

In the German speaking lands, in Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

, and wherever the people of these nations have wandered, green branches are also traditionally used to decorate churches for Pentecost. Birch
Birch
Birch is a tree or shrub of the genus Betula , in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. The Betula genus contains 30–60 known taxa...

 is the tree most typically associated with this practice in Europe, but other species are employed in different climates.

The singing of Pentecost hymns is also central to the celebration in the Western tradition. Hymns such as Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

’s “Come Holy Spirit God & Lord” ("Komm Heiliger Geist Herre Gott”), Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley was an English leader of the Methodist movement, son of Anglican clergyman and poet Samuel Wesley, the younger brother of Anglican clergyman John Wesley and Anglican clergyman Samuel Wesley , and father of musician Samuel Wesley, and grandfather of musician Samuel Sebastian Wesley...

’s "Spirit of Faith Come Down" & "Come Holy Ghost Our Hearts Inspire" or Hildegard von Bingen’s “O Holy Spirit Root of Life” are popular. Some traditional hymns of Pentecost make reference not only to themes relating to the Holy Spirit or the church, but to folk customs connected to the holiday as well, such as the decorating with green branches. Consider “Oh that I had a Thousand Voices” ("O daß ich tausend Zungen hätte") by German, Johann Mentz­er Verse 2: “Ye forest leaves so green and tender, that dance for joy in summer air…” or “O Day Full of Grace” ("Den signede Dag") by Dane
Kingdom of Denmark
The Kingdom of Denmark or the Danish Realm , is a constitutional monarchy and sovereign state consisting of Denmark proper in northern Europe and two autonomous constituent countries, the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic and Greenland in North America. Denmark is the hegemonial part, where the...

, Nikolai Grundtvig verse 3: "Yea were every tree endowed with speech and every leaflet singing…”. In the Roman Catholic Church, Veni Sancte Spiritus
Veni Sancte Spiritus
Veni Sancte Spiritus, sometimes called the "Golden Sequence," is a sequence prescribed in the Roman Liturgy for the Masses of Pentecost and its octave, exclusive of the following Sunday...

 is the sequence hymn
Sequence (poetry)
A sequence is a chant or hymn sung or recited during the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations, before the proclamation of the Gospel. By the time of the Council of Trent there were sequences for many feasts in the Church's year.The sequence has always been sung...

  for the Day of Pentecost. This has been translated into many languages and is sung in many denominations today. See also Veni Creator Spiritus
Veni Creator Spiritus
Veni Creator Spiritus is a hymn believed to have been written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. It is normally sung in Gregorian Chant and often associated with the Roman Catholic Church, where it is performed during the liturgical celebration of the feast of Pentecost...

.

Trumpeters or brass ensembles
Brass instrument
A brass instrument is a musical instrument whose sound is produced by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips...

 are often specially contracted to accompany singing and provide special music at Pentecost services, recalling the Sound of the mighty wind. While this practice is common among a wide spectrum of Western denominations (Eastern Churches do not employ instrumental accompaniment in their worship) it is particularly typical, and distinctive to the heritage of the Moravian Church.

Another custom is reading the appointed Scripture lessons in multiple foreign languages recounting the speaking in tongues recorded in

In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, cathedrals and great churches throughout Western Europe were fitted with a peculiar architectural feature known as a Holy Ghost hole; a small circular opening in the roof that symbolized the entrance of Holy Spirit into the midst of the assembled worshippers. At Pentecost, these Holy Ghost holes would be decorated with flowers, and sometimes a dove figure lowered through into the church while the story of the Pentecost was read. Holy Ghost holes can still be seen today in European churches such as Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England and forms part of a World Heritage Site....

.
Similarly, a large two dimensional dove figure would be, and in some places still are, cut out of wood, painted and decorated with flowers, to be lowered over the people, particularly during the singing of the sequence hymn
Sequence (poetry)
A sequence is a chant or hymn sung or recited during the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations, before the proclamation of the Gospel. By the time of the Council of Trent there were sequences for many feasts in the Church's year.The sequence has always been sung...

, or Veni Creator Spiritus
Veni Creator Spiritus
Veni Creator Spiritus is a hymn believed to have been written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. It is normally sung in Gregorian Chant and often associated with the Roman Catholic Church, where it is performed during the liturgical celebration of the feast of Pentecost...

. In other places, particularly Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 and the Italian peninsula
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, rose
Rose
A rose is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species. They form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers are large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows...

 petals were and are thrown from the galleries over the congregation calling to mind the tongues of fire. In modern times, this practice has been revived, and interestingly adapted as well, to include the strewing of origami
Origami
is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, which started in the 17th century AD at the latest and was popularized outside Japan in the mid-1900s. It has since then evolved into a modern art form...

 doves from above, or suspending them – sometimes by the hundreds – from the ceiling. In some cases, red fans, or red handkerchiefs are distributed to the assembled worshippers to be waved during the procession, etc. Other congregations have incorporated the use of red balloons, signifying the “Church’s Birthday” into their festivities. These may be carried by worshippers, used to decorate the sanctuary, or released all at once.

For some Protestants, the nine days between Ascension Day, and Pentecost are set aside as a time of fasting
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

, and world-wide prayer in honor of the disciples' time of prayer and unity awaiting the Holy Spirit. Similarly among Roman Catholics, special Pentecost Novenas are held. The Pentecost Novena is considered the first Novena, all other Novenas offered in preparation of various festivals and Saints days deriving their practice from those original nine days of prayer observed by the disciples of Christ. While the Eve of Pentecost was traditionally a day of fasting for Catholics, today’s canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 no longer requires it. Both Catholics and Protestants may hold spiritual retreats, prayer vigil
Vigil
A vigil is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance...

s and litanies in the days leading up to Pentecost. In some cases vigils on the Eve of Pentecost may last all night. Pentecost is also one of the occasions specially appointed for the Lutheran Litany to be sung.

From the early days of Western Christianity, Pentecost became one of the days set aside to celebrate Baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

. In Northern Europe Pentecost was preferred even over Easter for this rite, as the temperatures in late spring might be supposed to be more conducive to outdoor immersion
Immersion baptism
Immersion baptism is a method of baptism that is distinguished from baptism by affusion and by aspersion , sometimes without specifying whether the immersion is total or partial, but very commonly with the indication that the person baptized is immersed completely...

 as was then the practice. It is proposed that the term Whit Sunday derives from the custom of the newly baptized wearing white clothing, and from the white vestments worn by the clergy in English liturgical uses
Sarum Rite
The Sarum Rite was a variant of the Roman Rite widely used for the ordering of Christian public worship, including the Mass and the Divine Office...

. The holiday was also one of the three days each year (along with Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 and Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

) Roman Catholics were required to confess
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

 and receive the sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

 of Holy Communion in order to remain in good church standing. Holy Communion is likewise often a feature of the Protestant observance of Pentecost as well. It is one of the relatively few Sundays some Reformed denominations may offer the communion meal, and is one of the days of the year specially appointed among Moravians for the celebration of their Love Feasts. Ordinations are celebrated across a wide array of Western denominations at Pentecost, or near to it. In some denominations, for example the Lutheran Church, even if an ordination or consecration of a deaconess
Deaconess
Deaconess is a non-clerical order in some Christian denominations which sees to the care of women in the community. That word comes from a Greek word diakonos as well as deacon, which means a servant or helper and occurs frequently in the Christian New Testament of the Bible. Deaconesses trace...

 is not celebrated on Pentecost, the liturgical color will invariably be red, and the theme of the service will be the Holy Spirit. And above all, Pentecost is a day for the Confirmation celebrations of young people. Flowers, the wearing of white robes, or white dresses recalling Baptism, rites such as the laying on of hands
Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is a religious ritual that accompanies certain religious practices, which are found throughout the world in varying forms....

, and vibrant singing play prominent roles on these joyous occasions, the blossoming of Spring forming an equal analogy with the blossoming of youth.

The typical image of Pentecost in the West is that of the Virgin Mary seated centrally and prominently among the disciples, with flames resting on the crowns of their heads. Occasionally parting clouds suggesting the action of the “mighty wind”, rays of light, and/or the Dove, are also depicted. Of course, the Western iconographic style is less static and stylized than that of the East, and other very different representations have been produced, and in some cases have achieved great fame, such as the Pentecosts by Titian
Titian
Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488/1490 – 27 August 1576 better known as Titian was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near...

, Giotto and el Greco
El Greco
El Greco was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. "El Greco" was a nickname, a reference to his ethnic Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος .El Greco was born on Crete, which was at...

.

Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 already in the 1st century notes the importance of this festival to the early Christian communities. (See: & ) Since the lifetime of some who may have been eye-whitnesses, annual celebrations of the descent of the Holy Spirit have been observed. Before the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 Pentecost Monday as well was a Holy Day of Obligation
Holy Day of Obligation
In the Catholic Church, Holy Days of Obligation or Holidays of Obligation, less commonly called Feasts of Precept, are the days on which, as of the Code of Canon Law states,-Eastern Catholic Churches:...

 during which the Catholic Church addressed the newly baptized and confirmed. Since that time however Pentecost Monday is no longer solemnized. Nevertheless it remains an official church festival in many Protestant churches, such as the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden
Church of Sweden
The Church of Sweden is the largest Christian church in Sweden. The church professes the Lutheran faith and is a member of the Porvoo Communion. With 6,589,769 baptized members, it is the largest Lutheran church in the world, although combined, there are more Lutherans in the member churches of...

, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is the national church of Finland. The church professes the Lutheran branch of Christianity, and is a member of the Porvoo Communion....

, and others. In the Byzantine Catholic Rite
Greek Byzantine Catholic Church
The Greek Byzantine Catholic Church is a sui iuris particular Church in full union with the Roman Catholic Church which uses the Byzantine liturgical rite in the Koine Greek and modern Greek languages...

 Pentecost Monday is no longer a Holy Day of Obligation
Holy Day of Obligation
In the Catholic Church, Holy Days of Obligation or Holidays of Obligation, less commonly called Feasts of Precept, are the days on which, as of the Code of Canon Law states,-Eastern Catholic Churches:...

, but rather a simple holy day. In the Roman Catholic Church, as at Easter, the liturgical rank of Monday and Tuesday of Pentecost week is a Double of the First Class and across many Western denominations, Pentecost is celebrated with an octave
Octave
In music, an octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems"...

 culminating on Trinity Sunday
Trinity Sunday
Trinity Sunday is the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Western Christian liturgical calendar, and the Sunday of Pentecost in Eastern Christianity...

.
Marking the festival’s importance, in several denominations, such as the Lutheran and United Methodist churches (and formerly in the Roman Catholic Church), all the Sundays from the holiday itself up until the next Advent
Advent
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi...

 in late November or December are designated the 2nd, 3rd, Nth, Sunday after Pentecost, etc. Throughout the year, in Roman Catholic piety, the Pentecost is the third of the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary
Rosary
The rosary or "garland of roses" is a traditional Catholic devotion. The term denotes the prayer beads used to count the series of prayers that make up the rosary...

, as well as being one of the Stations of the Resurrection
Stations of the Resurrection
The Stations of the Resurrection, also known by the Latin name Via Lucis , are a form of Christian devotion, encouraging meditation upon the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and some of the Resurrection appearances and other episodes recorded in the New Testament...

, or Via Lucis.

In Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 churches, where a lesser degree of emphasis on the liturgical year
Liturgical year
The liturgical year, also known as the church year, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches which determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read. Distinct liturgical colours may appear in...

 is generally placed, Pentecost may indeed be one of the greatest celebrations in the year. In many other cases though, Pentecost may be a holiday ignored in these churches. Perhaps ironically, this includes many Pentecostal congregations. Christians of these traditions may be surprised to learn of the significance assigned to the holiday by others, and in fact in many evangelical churches in the United States, secular Mother’s Day is more celebrated than the ancient and biblical feast of Pentecost. (This tends to be much less the case among evangelicals in countries where Pentecost is prominently celebrated, such as Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 or Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

.) Nevertheless, today many evangelicals are discovering the liturgical calendar and observe Pentecost as a day to teach on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile across denominational lines Pentecost is becoming an opportunity for Christians to honor the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and celebrate the birth of the church in an ecumenical context.

Classical compositions for Pentecost

The Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 church of the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 observed three days of Pentecost. Some composers wrote sacred cantata
Cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

s to be performed in the church services of these days. Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

 composed several cantata
Bach cantata
Bach cantata became a term for a cantata of the German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach who was a prolific writer of the genre. Although many of his works are lost, around 200 cantatas survived....

s for days of Pentecost, including Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! BWV 172
Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! BWV 172
Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! , BWV 172, is a church cantata of Johann Sebastian Bach, written for Pentecost Sunday in Weimar, first performed there in the Schlosskirche on 20 May 1714.- History :In Weimar, Bach was the court organist of Johann Ernst von Sachsen-Weimar...

in 1714. Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel was a prolific German composer.-Biography:Stölzel grew up in Schwarzenberg, Saxony in the Erzgebirge. From 1707 he was a student of theology in Leipzig, and of Melchior Hofmann, the musical director of the Neukirche. He studied, worked and composed in Breslau and Halle...

 wrote cantatas such as Werdet voll Geistes (Get full of spirit) in 1737.
Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex ; harmonically and melodically it is based on modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations...

 composed an organ mass Messe de la Pentecôte
Messe de la Pentecôte
Messe de la Pentecôte is an organ mass composed by Olivier Messiaen in 1949–50. According to the composer, it is based on twenty years of improvising at Église de la Sainte-Trinité, where Messiaen was organist since 1931....

in 1949/50. In 1964 Fritz Werner
Fritz Werner
Fritz Werner was a German choral conductor, church music director, conductor, organist and composer...

 wrote an oratorio
Oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

 for Pentecost Veni, sancte spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit) on the sequence Veni sancte spiritus
Veni Sancte Spiritus
Veni Sancte Spiritus, sometimes called the "Golden Sequence," is a sequence prescribed in the Roman Liturgy for the Masses of Pentecost and its octave, exclusive of the following Sunday...

, and Jani Christou
Jani Christou
Jani Christou was a Greek composer.He was born in Heliopolis, Egypt, of Greek parents. He was educated at the English School in Alexandria and he took his first piano lessons from various teachers and from the important Greek pianist Gina Bachauer...

 wrote Tongues of Fire, a Pentecost oratorio. Richard Hillert
Richard Hillert
Richard Hillert was a noted Lutheran composer. He was Distinguished Professor of Music Emeritus at Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill. He was best known for his work as a composer and teacher of composition...

 wrote a Motet for the Day of Pentecost for choir, vibraphone, and prepared electronic tape in 1969. Violeta Dinescu
Violeta Dinescu
Violeta Dinescu is a Romanian composer, pianist and professor, living in Germany since 1982.-Romania:Violeta Dinescu began her studies of music in 1972 at the conservatory Ciprian Porumbescu in Bucharest, composition with Myriam Marbe. In 1978 she received her master's degree, with distinction...

 composed Pfingstoratorium, an oratorio for Pentecost for five soloists, mixed chorus and small orchestra in 1993.

Customs and traditions

In Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 it was customary to scatter rose
Rose
A rose is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species. They form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers are large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows...

 petals from the ceiling of the churches to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues; hence in Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 and elsewhere in Italy Whitsunday is called Pasqua rosatum. The Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 name Pasqua rossa comes from the red colours of the vestments used on Whitsunday.

In France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 it was customary to blow trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

s during Divine service, to recall the sound of the mighty wind which accompanied the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

Public holiday

Since Pentecost itself is on a Sunday, it is automatically a public holiday almost everywhere. Additional restrictions to Sunday opening hours may apply.

Pentecost Monday is a public holiday in many Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an countries including Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 (since 2008), (most parts of) Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and also Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

 and Togo
Togo
Togo, officially the Togolese Republic , is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, on which the capital Lomé is located. Togo covers an area of approximately with a population of approximately...

.

In Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 it was also a public holiday, but Pentecost Monday (Annandag Pingst), through a government decision December 15, 2004, was abolished and replaced with the Swedish National Day on June 6 each year. In Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, it is no longer a public holiday. It was a public holiday in Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 until 1973. It was a bank holiday
Bank Holiday
A bank holiday is a public holiday in the United Kingdom or a colloquialism for public holiday in Ireland. There is no automatic right to time off on these days, although the majority of the population is granted time off work or extra pay for working on these days, depending on their contract...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 until 1967 when it was replaced by the Spring Bank Holiday.

Literary allusions

According to legend, King Arthur
King Arthur
King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...

 always gathered all his knights at the round table for a feast and a quest on Pentecost:

So ever the king had a custom that at the feast of Pentecost in especial, afore other feasts in the year, he would not go that day to meat until he had heard or seen of a great marvel.



German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 declared Pentecost "das liebliche Fest" - the lovely Feast, in a selection by the same name in his Reineke Fuchs.


"Pfingsten, das liebliche Fest", speaks of Pentecost as a time of greening and blooming in fields, woods, hills, mountains, bushes and hedges, of birds singing new songs, meadows sprouting fragrant flowers, and of festive sunshine gleaming from the skies and coloring the earth - iconic lines idealizing the Pentecost holidays in the German speaking lands.

Further, Goethe records an old peasant proverb relating to Pentecost in his "Sankt-Rochus-Fest zu Bingen"
- Ripe strawberries at Pentecost mean a good wine crop.

Alexandre Dumas, père
Alexandre Dumas, père
Alexandre Dumas, , born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie was a French writer, best known for his historical novels of high adventure which have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world...

 mentions of Pentecost in Twenty Years After
Twenty Years After
Twenty Years After is a novel by Alexandre Dumas, père, first serialized from January to August, 1845. A book of the D'Artagnan Romances, it is a sequel to The Three Musketeers and precedes The Vicomte de Bragelonne .The novel follows events in France during La Fronde, during the childhood reign...

 (French: Vingt ans après), the sequel to The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers is a novel by Alexandre Dumas, first serialized in March–July 1844. Set in the 17th century, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard...

. A meal is planned for the holiday, to which La Ramée, second in command of the prison, is invited, and by which contrivance, the Duke is able to escape. He speaks sarcastically of the festival to his jailor, foreshadowing his escape : "Now, what has Pentecost to do with me? Do you fear, say, that the Holy Ghost may come down in the form of firey tongues and open the gates of my prison?"

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 mentions Pentecost in a line from Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular archetypal stories of young, teenage lovers.Romeo and Juliet belongs to a...

 Act 1, Scene V. At the ball at his home, Capulet speaks in refuting an overestimate of the time elapsed since he last danced: "What, man? 'Tis not so much, 'tis not so much! 'Tis since the nuptial of Lucentio, Come Pentecost as quickly as it will, Some five-and-twenty years, and then we mask'd." Note here the allusion to the tradition of mumming, Morris dancing and wedding celebrations at Pentecost.

External links

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