Pentecost – Pentecôte – Whitsunday



Pentecost is the final celebration of the seven-week Easter period and is a moveable festival.

It celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit of Jesus upon the Apostles on the seventh Sunday and fiftieth day after Easter.

Its name comes from the Greek word Pentekoste, which means fiftieth.

It is known as Pentecôte in French.

On the fiftieth day after Easter, a noise similar to that of a violent wind descended from heaven, filled the room where Jesus’ apostles had gathered.

The hushing sound was followed by fire that split in several flames.

However, each flame came to rest on each of the apostles’ heads.

The apostles suddenly felt that they were filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised during his Ascension to heaven.

They realized to their own astonishment that each of them was able to speak and being understood in a different language.

Each apostle therefore set off in a different direction in order to testify to the resurrection of Jesus.


Basilica of Ottobeuren

They spread His word among the world and began to baptize new converts.

Soon the first Christians began to organize themselves into communities under their direction.

Pentecost is therefore a major celebration.

It marks the beginning of evangelization, in other words the rise of the Christian Church.

Most French public offices, many shops and businesses are closed on Pentecost Monday.

Pentecost is also known as Whitsunday in English speaking countries.

This name comes from the white clothes the newly converted Christians wore for their baptism during the vigil.

Pentecost Monday has been a French public holiday since 1801.

Dates for Pentecost Sunday: 4 June 2017 – 20 May 2018

Dates for all the French public holidays

Photos via Wikimedia: Church fresco  by Radim Scholaster is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0Basilica of Ottobeuren by Wolfgang Sauber is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0