Whitsuntide meaning: What is Whit Sunday? Why is it important to Christians?
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Whitsun, also known as Pentecost or Trinity Sunday, is a significant date in the Christian calendar. The special event is being celebrated on Sunday, May 23, this year, with May 24 and May 25, known as Whit Monday and Whit Tuesday.
What is Whit Sunday?
Whit Sunday is being celebrated around the world today by Catholic, Anglicans and Methodists.
This special day is celebrated to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples.
It is the seventh day after Easter or Pentecost and its name derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “wit” meaning “understanding” to celebrate the disciples being filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
What does Whitsuntide mean?
Whitsuntide is the week beginning on Whitsunday, especially the first three days of the week.
It used to be one of three vacation weeks for the medieval villein, marking a pause in the agricultural year.
Whitsuntide particularly refers to Pentecost or Whitsunday, Whitmonday and Whit-Tuesday.
Why is it important to Christian?
According to the Christian Bible’s New Testament, the apostles were inspired to speak in tongues when the Holy Spirit descended.
The apostles were praying together at the Shavuot festival at the time and upon hearing this unfamiliar language, onlookers believed they were drunk.
However, Saint Peter explained they were in fact inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Saint Peter then delivered his first Christian sermon which led to the conversion and baptism of 3,000 people.
The sermon is now hailed as the birth of the Christian church as an official religious sect.
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Around the world, Christians celebrate this festival in many different ways.
Between 1871 and 1978 the festival was marked with a UK bank holiday on Whitmonday.
However, this was replaced by the Spring Bank Holiday Monday which now takes place on the last Monday of May.
Pentecost Monday is still a public holiday in many European countries including France, Germany and Belgium.
Throughout history, the Whitsuntide was a popular time for baptisms.
Many churches still hold White Walks in honour of the special time.
In addition, folk traditions such as cheese rolling and morris dancing are often undertaken in association with Whit Sunday.
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