Thursday, May 24, 2007

Traditions of Pentecost

The word “Pentecost” comes from the Greek meaning “fiftieth” and refers to the days following Easter. The term Whitsun, or Whitsuntide, is applied to the week following Pentecost and derives from the older spelling of “wit” referring to the gift of wisdom from the coming of the Holy Spirit. The color red is most often associated with Pentecost to represent the fire of the Holy Spirit. The Monday after Pentecost used to be a traditional holiday throughout the world. Some of the other traditions of Pentecost are as follows:

France: Musicians played trumpets in the Church service to remind the congregants of the sound of the mighty wind that accompanied the descent of the Holy Spirit.

England: Whitsun Ales, or festivals, were held which included horse races and presentation of Whitsun plays. This weekend remains a favorite time for brass band competitions.

Italy: To commemorate the tongues of fire, rose petals were scattered from the ceiling of churches.

Poland: People decorate their houses with green branches for the “Green Holiday” to represent to gift of new life in the Spirit. The blessing of crops was also associated with the festivities.

Ukraine: The Church celebrates “Green Sunday” by decorating the church and the door of people’s homes with tree branches. Clergy and congregants wear green as a reminder of the gift of life in the Spirit and the literal birthday of the Church as 3000 people were baptized into the Church on the first Pentecost.

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