Pentecost in United Kingdom

Quick Facts

Many Christians in the United Kingdom observe Pentecost, also known as Whitsunday or Whit Sunday.

Name

Pentecost

Alternative name

Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pentecost 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015
List of dates for other years

Pentecost is a Christian observance commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus Christ’s disciples, according to the Christian Bible. Many Christians in the United Kingdom celebrate Pentecost, which is also known as Pentecost Sunday, Whitsunday, or Whit Sunday.

Dove in stained glass

The dove is a popular symbol of the Holy Spirit.

©iStockphoto.com/Chad Jarae

What do people do?

Pentecost is a joyous period for many Christians in the United Kingdom. Many churches have special Pentecost services for people – both members and guests – to learn more about Pentecost, its history and the meaning of this occasion in modern times. Whit Sunday is called “Bread and Cheese Day” in Gloucestershire because of an old tradition that involves throwing bread and cheese.

Many church groups organize celebrations in venues such as parks or community halls. These celebrations often include speeches from special guests, music, food, activities for children, and opportunities for people to socialize. Pentecost is also a day allocated for baptisms in some churches. Many Christians recognize Pentecost as the birth of the Christian church.

The Pentecost Festival is a Christian festival in London during the Pentecost weekend. The festival features various events including music, sport, art, and cultural events. Many churches and Christian organizations participate in this festival. The Pentecost Festival was first held in 2008 and featured 150 events at more than 60 venues and outdoor spaces. More than 100 people were out on the streets around the events, talking to people and praying.

Public life

Whitsunday is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom. Traffic and parking conditions may be busy in areas where large Pentecost events are held.

Background

According to the Christian Bible, it was on the 50th day after Easter when the apostles prayed together and the Holy Spirit descended on them. They received the “gift of tongues” – the ability to speak in other languages – and immediately began to preach about Jesus Christ to Jewish people from all over the world who flocked to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot.

Christian Pentecost not only commemorated the Holy Spirit’s visit but also marked the birth of the Christian Church. Although it is not certain when Christians started observing Pentecost, it may have been early as the first century CE. Whitsuntide, also referred to as Whitsun in modern times, is the period beginning with the Saturday before Whitsunday and ending the following Saturday.

According to church tradition, Pentecost is about seven weeks after Easter Sunday, or 50 days after Easter, including Easter Day. In some Orthodox churches, Whitsunday is observed after the date set by the western churches. This is because some Orthodox churches still observe holidays according to the Julian calendar, which preceded the Gregorian calendar adopted by many western churches. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.

Symbols

The symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit and include flames, fire, wind, and a dove.

About Pentecost in other countries

Read more about Pentecost.

Pentecost Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
SunJun 31990PentecostChristian 
SunMay 191991PentecostChristian 
SunJun 71992PentecostChristian 
SunMay 301993PentecostChristian 
SunMay 221994PentecostChristian 
SunJun 41995PentecostChristian 
SunMay 261996PentecostChristian 
SunMay 181997PentecostChristian 
SunMay 311998PentecostChristian 
SunMay 231999PentecostChristian 
SunJun 112000PentecostChristian 
SunJun 32001PentecostChristian 
SunMay 192002PentecostChristian 
SunJun 82003PentecostChristian 
SunMay 302004PentecostChristian 
SunMay 152005PentecostChristian 
SunJun 42006PentecostChristian 
SunMay 272007PentecostChristian 
SunMay 112008PentecostChristian 
SunMay 312009PentecostChristian 
SunMay 232010PentecostChristian 
SunJun 122011PentecostChristian 
SunMay 272012PentecostChristian 
SunMay 192013PentecostChristian 
SunJun 82014PentecostChristian 
SunMay 242015PentecostChristian 
SunMay 152016PentecostChristian 
SunJun 42017PentecostChristian 
SunMay 202018PentecostChristian 
SunJun 92019PentecostChristian 
SunMay 312020PentecostChristian 

Related holiday

Other holidays in June 2014 in United Kingdom

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