Pentecost: Wikis


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An Eastern Orthodox icon of Pentecost. This is the Icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. At the bottom is an allegorical figure, called Kosmos, which symbolizes the world.
Observed by Most Christians
Type Christian
Significance Celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus
2009 date May 31 (Western)
June 7 (Eastern)
2010 date May 23 (both Western and Eastern)
Celebrations Religious (church) services, Festive Dinner.
Observances Prayer
Related to Shavuot, historically and symbolically; Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday which lead up to Easter; and Ascension, Trinity Sunday, and Corpus Christi which follow it.
Liturgical year

Pentecost (Ancient Greekπεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], pentekostē [hēmera], "the fiftieth [day]") is one of the prominent feasts in the Christian liturgical year. The feast is also called Whitsun, Whitsunday, Whit Sunday, and Whitsuntide, especially in the United Kingdom. Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks (50 days) after Easter Sunday, hence its name.[1] Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday.

Historically and symbolically related to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot, which commemorates God giving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai fifty days after the Exodus, Pentecost now also commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the Book of Acts, Chapter 2 in the New Testament. For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described as "the Church's birthday".

The Pentecostal movement of Christianity derives its name from this biblical event.


Biblical narrative

A depiction of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in the Rosary Garden of San Carlos Seminary, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City, Philippines.

The biblical narrative of Pentecost is given in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. As recounted in Acts 2:1-4:[2]

On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind. It filled the house where they were meeting. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak.

The apostles received the Holy Spirit and were miraculously enabled to go out into Jerusalem prophesying and speaking in languages that all the visitors to Jerusalem could understand as told further in Acts 2:5-6:[3]

Many religious Jews from every country in the world were living in Jerusalem ... they were hearing everything in their own languages.

The noise and activity attracted a huge crowd and the Apostle Peter preached a sermon to the crowd with great effectiveness, as Acts 2:41[4] reports: "On that day about three thousand believed his message and were baptised."

Location of the first Pentecost

The Cenacle on Mount Zion, claimed to be the location of the Last Supper and Pentecost. Bargil Pixner[5] claims the original Church of the Apostles is located under the current structure.

It is believed that the events of the first Pentecost recorded in the New Testament Book of Acts took place at the Temple Court located south and south-west of the Temple Mount, an area excavated by Israeli archaeologist Benjamin Mazar shortly after the Israeli conquest of East Jerusalem in 1967. In the Jerusalem Christian Review, Dan Mazar wrote about the archaeological discoveries made at this location by his grandfather, Prof. Mazar, which included the first century stairs of ascent, where Jesus and his disciples preached, as well as the "mikvaot" (or baptismals) used by the "three thousand" who were baptized on the day of Pentecost, according to the Book of Acts.

Literary allusions

According to legend, King Arthur always gathered all his knights at the round table for a feast and a quest on Pentecost:

So ever the king had a custom that at the feast of Pentecost in especial, afore other feasts in the year, he would not go that day to meat until he had heard or seen of a great marvel. [6]


Pentecost is part of the Moveable Cycle of the ecclesiastical year. According to Christian tradition, Pentecost is always seven weeks after Easter Sunday; that is to say, 50 days after Easter (inclusive of Easter Day). In other words, it falls on the eighth Sunday, counting Easter Day (see article on Computus for the calculation of the date of Easter). Pentecost falls in mid- to late spring in the Northern Hemisphere and mid- to late autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.

Since the date of Easter is calculated differently in the East and West (see Easter controversy), in most years the two traditions celebrate Pentecost on different days (though in some years the celebrations will coincide, as in 2010). In the West, the earliest possible date is May 10 (as in 1818 and 2285), and the latest possible date June 13 (as in 1943 and 2038). In the East, this range of possible dates presently corresponds to May 23 through June 26 on the Gregorian calendar.

Liturgical celebration


Eastern churches

St. Andrew's Cathedral, St. Petersburg, decorated for Pentecost.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Pentecost is one of the Twelve Great Feasts and is considered to be the hightest ranking Great Feast of the Lord, second in rank only to Pascha (Easter). The service is celebrated with an All-night Vigil on the eve of the feast day, and the Divine Liturgy on the day of the feast itself. Orthodox temples are often decorated with greenery and flowers on this feast day, and the celebration is intentionally similar to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Mosaic Law.

The feast itself lasts three days. The first day is known as "Trinity Sunday"; the second day is known as "Spirit Monday" (or "Monday of the Holy Spirit"); and the third day, Tuesday, is called the "Third Day of the Trinity."."[7] The Afterfeast of Pentecost lasts for one week, during which fasting is not permitted, even on Wednesday and Friday. In the Russian Orthodox tradition, the liturgical color used at Pentecost is green, and the clergy and faithful carry flowers and green branches in their hands during the services.

An extraordinary service called the Kneeling Prayer, is served on the night of Pentecost. This is a Vespers service to which are added three sets of long poetical prayers, the composition of Saint Basil the Great, during which everyone makes a full prostration, touching their foreheads to the floor (prostrations in church having been forbidden from the day of Pascha (Easter) up to this point).

All of the remaining days of the ecclesiastical year, up until the preparation for the next Great Lent are named for the day after Pentecost on which they occur (for example, the 13th Tuesday After Pentecost).

The Second Monday after Pentecost is the beginning of the Apostles' Fast (which continues until the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29). Theologically, Orthodox do not consider Pentecost to be the "birthday" of the Church; they see the Church as having existed before the creation of the world (cf. The Shepherd of Hermas[8])

The Orthodox icon of the feast depicts the Twelve Apostles seated in a semicircle (sometimes the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) is shown sitting in the center of them). At the top of the icon, the Holy Spirit, in the form of tongues of fire, is descending upon them. At the bottom is an allegorical figure, called Kosmos, which symbolizes the world. Although Kosmos is crowned with earthly glory he sits in the darkness caused by the ignorance of God. He is holding a towel on which have been placed 12 scrolls, representing the teaching of the Twelve Apostles.

Western Churches

In the more liturgical Western Churches, the liturgical color used may be white or red, and elements are often added to the services to recount the important biblical events celebrated by the feast.

In Italy it was customary to scatter rose petals from the ceiling of the churches to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues; hence in Sicily and elsewhere in Italy Whitsunday is called Pasqua rosatum. The Italian name Pasqua rossa comes from the red colours of the vestments used on Whitsunday.

In France it was customary to blow trumpets during Divine service, to recall the sound of the mighty wind which accompanied the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

Public Holiday

Since Pentecost itself is on a Sunday, it is automatically a public holiday almost everywhere. Pentecost Monday is a public holiday in many European countries including Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, (The) Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and (most parts of) Switzerland. In Sweden it is not a public holiday, since Pentecost Monday (Annandag Påsk) through a government decision 15 December 2004 was abolished as a public holiday, in favour of June 6, the National Day of Sweden. This made the average work-year 2 hours 17 minutes longer, since Pentecost Monday was always on a Monday, while June 6 moves, so it can occur on a Saturday or Sunday. The unions were not happy, and union-talks 2007 led to guarantees that employees would be compensated for the extra hours. In Italy it is no longer a public holiday either, but they are discussing whether to re-establish it or not(Senat: Nr.940; Kammer: Nr. 1647).

In the United Kingdom, Pentecost was long celebrated with a Bank Holiday on the day after the religious festival, which meant that the holiday date was moveable and could occur either in May or June. Following the passing into law of the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, however, the date of this holiday was regularised as the last Monday in May. It then took on the rather unceremonious name of the (late) " Spring Bank Holiday" and now carries no formal religious significance, although it does still sometimes occur on the same date as the traditional holiday, and thus with the rest of Europe. In colloquial usage, many people still refer to the Late Spring holiday as "Whitsun", whether or not the holiday coincides with Pentecost, and a full week's holiday is usually taken in that week by both schools and the UK parliament.

See also


  1. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia,
  2. ^ Acts 2:1-4
  3. ^ Acts 2:5-6
  4. ^ Acts 2:41
  5. ^ Bargil Pixner, The Church of the Apostles found on Mount Zion, Biblical Archaeology Review 16.3 May/June 1990 [1]
  6. ^ Le Morte d'Arthur, Thomas Malory. Book 7, chapter 1
  7. ^ Trinity Week - 3rd Day of the Trinity
  8. ^ Patrologia Graecae, 35:1108-9.

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PENTECOST, a feast of the Jews, in its original meaning a "harvest feast," as consisting of the first-fruits of human toil (Exod. xxiii. 16), extending over the seven weeks which fairly correspond with the duration of the Canaanite harvest. Hence it was the closing feast of the harvest gladness.

The agricultural character of this feast clearly reveals its Canaanite origin (see Hebrew Religion). It does not, however, rank equal in importance with the other two agricultural festivals of pre-exilian Israel, viz. the Massoth or feast of unleavened cakes (which marked the beginning of the corn-harvest), and the Asiph (" ingathering," later called succoth, " booths") which marked the close of all the year's ingathering of vegetable products. This is clear in the ideal scheme of Ezekiel (xlv. 21 seq.) in which according to the original text, Pentecost is omitted (see Cornill's revised text and his note ad loc.). It is a later hand that has inscribed a reference to the "feast of weeks" which is found in our Massoretic Hebrew text. Nevertheless occasional allusions to this feast, though secondary, are to be found in Hebrew literature, e.g. Isa. ix. 3 (2 Heb.) and Ps. iv. 7 (8 Heb.).

In both the early codes, viz. in Exod. xxiii. 16 (E) and in Exod. xxxiv 22 (J, in which the harvest festival is called "feast of weeks") we have only a bare statement that the harvest festival took place some weeks after the opening spring festival called Massoth. It is in Deut. xvi. q that we find it explicitly stated that seven weeks elapsed between the beginning of the corn-harvest ("when thou puttest the sickle to the corn") and the celebration of the harvest festival (K¢sir). We also note the same generous inclusion of the household slaves and of the resident alien as well as the fatherless and widow that characterizes the autumnal festival of "Booths." But when we pass to the post-exilian legislation (Lev. xxiii. 10-21; cf. Num. xxviii. 26 seq.) we enter upon a far more detailed and specific series of ritual instructions. (I) A special ceremonial is described as taking place on "the morrow after the Sabbath," i.e. in the week of unleavened cakes. The first-fruits of the harvest here take the form of a sheaf which is waved by the priest before Yahweh. (2) There is the offering of a male lamb of the first year without blemish and also a meal offering of fine flour and oil mixed in defined proportions as well as a drink-offering of wine of a certain measure. After this "morrow after the Sabbath" seven weeks are to be reckoned, and when we reach the morrow after the seventh Sabbath fifty days have been enumerated. Here we must bear in mind that Hebrew numeration always includes the day which is the terminus a quo as well as that which is term. ad quern. On this fiftieth day two wave-loaves made from the produce of the fields occupied by the worshipper ("your habitations") are offered together with seven unblemished lambs of the first year as well as one young bullock and two rams as a burnt offering. We have further precise details respecting the sin-offering and the peaceofferings which were also presented.' This elaborate ceremonial connected with the wave-offering (developed in the post-exile period) took place on the morrow of the seventh Sabbath called 1 On the critical questions involved in these ritual details of Lev. xxiii. 18 as compared with Num. xxviii. 27-30 cf. Driver and White in S. B. 0. T., note on Lev. xxiii. 18.

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FIG. 1. - Linguatula taenioides, Rud. adult.

a " day of holy convocation" on which no servile work was to be done. It was called a "fiftieth-day feast." Pentecost or "Fiftieth" day is only a Greek equivalent of the last name (7rEvroKoaT)) in the Apocrypha and New Testament. The orthodox later Jews reckoned the fifty days from the 16th of Nisan, but on this there has been considerable controversy among Jews themselves. The orthodox later Jews assumed that the Sabbath in Lev. xxiii. i i, 15 is the 15th Nisan, or the first day of the feast of Massoth. Hitzig maintained that in the Hebrew calendar 14th and 21st Nisan were always Sabbaths, and that 1st Nisan was always a Sunday, which was the opening day of the year. "The morrow after the Sabbath" means, according to Hitzig, the day after the weekly Sabbath, viz. 22nd Nisan. Knobel (Comment. on Leviticus) and Kurtz agree with Hitzig's premises but differ from his identification of the Sabbath. They identify it with the 14th Nisan. Accordingly the "day after" falls on the 15th. (See Purves's article, "Pentecost," in Hastings's Diet. of the Bible, and also Ginsburg's article in Kitto's Cyclopaedia). Like the other great feasts, it came to be celebrated by fixed special sacrifices. The amount of these is differently expressed in the earlier and later priestly law (Lev. xxiii. 18 seq.; Num. xxviii. 26 seq.); the discrepancy was met by adding the two lists. The later Jews also extended the one day of the feast to two. Further, in accordance with the tendency to substitute historical for economic explanations of the great feasts, Pentecost came to be regarded as the feast commemorative of the Sinaitic legislation.

To the Christian Church Pentecost acquired a new significance through the outpouring of the Spirit (Acts ii.). (See WHIT SUNDAY.) It is not easy to find definite parallels to this festival in other ancient religious cults. The Akitu festival to Marduk was a spring festival at the beginning of the Babylonian year (Nisan). It therefore comes near in time to the feast of unleavened cakes rather than to the later harvest festival in the month Sivan called "feast of weeks." Zimmern indeed connects the Akitu festival with 'that of Purim on the 15th Adar (March); see K.A.T. 3 p. 514 seq. Also the Roman Cerealia of April 12th19th rather correspond to Hassoth than to K¢sir. (0. C. W.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Ancient Greek πεντηκοστή (pentēkostē) "fiftieth"

Proper noun


  1. A Jewish festival (also known as Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks) seven weeks after the feast of Firstfruits or Yom Habikkurim, originally a harvest festival but, since the destruction of the Temple, also commemorating the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. [See Wikipedia article on Shavuot for further information on, and chronology of, these feasts.]
    • 1611: Bible, King James version, Acts of the Apostles 2:1 - And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
    • 1854: Walter Farquhar Hook, A Church Dictionary - The first lesson for the morning contains the law of the Jewish Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, which was a type of ours.
    • 2005: Alfred J Kolatch, A Handbook for the Jewish Home - Because Shavuot is celebrated on the fiftieth day after the advent of Passover, it has been called Pentecost, a Greek word meaning “fiftieth [day]".
  2. The particular (Jewish) Pentecost 49 days (inclusive) after the resurrection of Jesus on the (Jewish) Day of First Fruits, when (in Christian teaching) the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles with miraculous effects including the ability to explain the Gospel intelligibly in languages they did not know; or a similar occasion since.
    • 1762: Voltaire, William Vade included in Works - He spoke either Latin or Welsh; and the Sicambri spoke the antient Teutonic. Remi, in all appearance, renewed the miracle of the Pentecost: Et unusquisquis intendebat linguam suam, And each understood his own language.
    • 1786: Joseph Priestley, An History of Early Opinions Concerning Jesus Christ: Compiled from Original Writers; Proving that the Christian Church was at first Unitarian - If it be supposed that the divinity of Christ was unknown to the apostles till the day of Pentecost ... we have no account of any such discovery having been made.
    • 2005: Frank J Lechner, John Boli, World Culture: Origins and Consequences - They think a new Pentecost is afoot, in which the Holy Spirit brings millions the good news of salvation in the hereafter and real blessings in the here and now.
  3. Christian festival (also known as Whitsun or Whitsunday), which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (see above definition).
    • 1797: Richard Burn, Simon Fraser, Ecclesiastical Law - Spiritual profits, commonly called whitsun-farthings, ... offered at the time of pentecost.
    • 2005: Edward Kessler, Neil Wenborn (editors), A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations - Shavuot is linked to Passover in the same way that Pentecost is linked to Easter, by a period of seven weeks.
    • 2006: Alister E McGrath, Christianity: An Introduction - The specific event which is commemorated at Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit, which is described in the Acts of the Apostles.

Derived terms



Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

i.e., "fiftieth", found only in the New Testament (Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1Cor 16:8). The festival so named is first spoken of in Ex 23:16 as "the feast of harvest," and again in Ex 34:22 as "the day of the firstfruits" (Num 28:26). From the sixteenth of the month of Nisan (the second day of the Passover), seven complete weeks, i.e., forty-nine days, were to be reckoned, and this feast was held on the fiftieth day. The manner in which it was to be kept is described in Lev 23:15-19; Num 28:27-29. Besides the sacrifices prescribed for the occasion, every one was to bring to the Lord his "tribute of a free-will offering" (Deut 16:9-11). The purpose of this feast was to commemorate the completion of the grain harvest. Its distinguishing feature was the offering of "two leavened loaves" made from the new corn of the completed harvest, which, with two lambs, were waved before the Lord as a thank offering.

The day of Pentecost is noted in the Christian Church as the day on which the Spirit descended upon the apostles, and on which, under Peter's preaching, so many thousands were converted in Jerusalem (Acts 2).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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This article needs to be merged with PENTECOST (Jewish Encyclopedia).
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Simple English

File:Folio 79r -
The Descent of the Holy Spirit in a 15th century illuminated manuscript. Musée Condé, Chantilly.

Pentecost (πεντηκοστή [‘ημέρα], pentekostē [hēmera], "the fiftieth day") is an important feast in the Christian liturgical year, celebrated the fiftieth day after Easter Sunday (the tenth day after Ascension Thursday), Historically and symbolically related to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot, it commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2. Pentecost is also called Whitsun, Whitsunday, or Whit Sunday in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking areas.

The Christian term "Pentecost" simply means "fiftieth" from the Greek, Πεντηκοστή, and has become the more common term in English, particularly in the United States.

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