On the Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus (50 days from the Passover in which He was crucified), the Holy Spirit, according to the Acts of the Apostles, descended on the disciples in the form of tongues of fire accompanied by the sound of a rush of wind, and gave them the power of speaking in such a way that people of different languages could understand them. The Christian feast of Pentecost is an annual commemoration of this event, and it is solemnly observed as the birthday of the church and the feast of the Holy Spirit.
In ecclesiastical calendars Pentecost is the seventh Sunday after Easter and closes Eastertide. In the Western Church there are special observances, e.g., a penitential vigil, and in ancient times neophytes were baptized at this time. From the white garments of these converts comes Whitsunday, an English name for Pentecost. The great liturgical Latin hymns Veni Creator Spiritus and Veni Sancte Spiritus were composed for Pentecost. The Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday; until Advent the weeks are counted from Pentecost or Trinity.
(from Greek pentecoste, “fiftieth day”) Christian festival commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus, occurring on the Jewish Pentecost, after Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. The disciples began to speak in the many languages of the people assembled there, a sign that the disciples should spread the Christian message throughout the world. Jewish Pentecost was a thanksgiving feast for the first fruits of the wheat harvest and was associated with remembrance of God's gift of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Christian Pentecost is celebrated on the Sunday concluding the 50-day period following Easter. It is also the name of the Jewish celebration of Shavuot (“Festival of Weeks”).
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Pentecost ([ἡμέρα], 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—or the 50th day, inclusively, whence its name is derived from the Greek. Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday. Historically and symbolically related to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot or the day, fifty days after the Exodus, on which God gave the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. In the New Testment times, Pentecost now 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.
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, were 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 :
The phrase "a rushing mighty wind" is almost a literal translation of the Hebrew word ruah, meaning in Hebrew texts the Spirit of God. The author of the Book of Acts goes on to describe how the apostles spoke in languages they had not learned (xenoglossy). While visitors to Jerusalem from around the Roman Empire understood the languages spoken, some misunderstood and thought that the apostles were drunk.
The New Testament records that many Christian converts experienced the same extraordinary gifts. The modern Pentecostal and charismatic movements believe that these gifts are still given today when Christians are baptized in the Holy Spirit in a personal Pentecost. Such Christians believe that when they 'speak in tongues' (practise glossolalia) they are engaging in the same activity as at Pentecost.
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?"
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.
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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.
Ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood are often held on Pentecost.
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.