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Pentecost

Pentecost 2017 and 2018

Pentecost is a national holiday in the nation of Belgium. The Day of Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles of Jesus Christ nearly 2,000 years ago. Pentecost is also known as Whit Sunday in Belgium.

YearDateDayHoliday
20175 JunMonWhit Monday
201821 MayMonWhit Monday

The public holiday is celebrated on the day after Pentecost, or Whit Monday, since Pentecost always falls on a Sunday.

According to the New Testament, the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles of Jesus Christ in the form of cloven tongues of fire when they had gathered together in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. When the tongues of fire descended, the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit as well as the gift of tongues. This enabled onlookers, many of whom had travelled to Jerusalem from distant lands for the festival, to miraculously hear the disciples declaring the Gospel in their own language.

The Day of Pentecost is a Jewish feast that occurs approximately 50 days after Passover. Jesus of Nazareth ascended into heaven 40 days after being crucified and rising from the dead. According to the Biblical narrative, the Day of Pentecost took place nine days after the ascension that year, one day short of the traditional 50 day period between Passover and Pentecost. Judeo-Christian tradition indicates that the number nine signifies the end or completion of a matter or period of time. Jesus had promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to guide them in all truth once he had ascended and his ministry on the earth was completed.

Christian Pentecost is a moving holiday since it occurs seven Sundays after the celebration of Easter Sunday. The exact date of Easter is determined by calculating the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox, or first day of spring, occurs when the earth has completed one-quarter of its 365 day journey around the sun.

Pentecost in Belgium

The Day of Pentecost, or Whitsun Day as it is commonly known in Belgium, is a day for worship, family time and holiday feasting. Many churches also offer special services on Whit Monday. Whit Sunday services have been held at historic cathedrals throughout Belgium for hundreds of years.

Among the historic cathedrals of Belgium are St Michael and St Gudule Cathedral in Brussels and St Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent. St Bavo’s Cathedral was consecrated in the year 942. The original St Michael and St Gudule Cathedral was believed to have been built in the ninth century.

Whit Monday, or Whitmon Day, is also known as the Monday of the Holy Spirit. The term whit, or Whitsuntide, stems from an English name for Pentecost, and the white garments that were worn by converts while being baptised. The celebration of Pentecost indicates the end of the annual Easter cycle which begins with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

Some of the other activities that occur on Pentecost include baptisms, ordinations, confirmations, prayer vigils, retreats and communion services. Depending on the region, certain Christian communities also wear festive clothing or participate in local customs and spring rites. The Day of Pentecost is a time to be thankful and provides an opportunity to demonstrate good will toward fellow Christians and neighbors.