Flag for United Kingdom

Pentecost in the United Kingdom

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.

Is Pentecost a Public Holiday?

Pentecost is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, June 9, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in the United Kingdom.

The dove is a popular symbol of the Holy Spirit.
The dove is a popular symbol of the Holy Spirit.
©bigstockphoto.com/Jorisvo

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

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010SunMay 23PentecostChristian 
2011SunJun 12PentecostChristian 
2012SunMay 27PentecostChristian 
2013SunMay 19PentecostChristian 
2014SunJun 8PentecostChristian 
2015SunMay 24PentecostChristian 
2016SunMay 15PentecostChristian 
2017SunJun 4PentecostChristian 
2018SunMay 20PentecostChristian 
2019SunJun 9PentecostChristian 
2020SunMay 31PentecostChristian 

You might also like

The Hindu deity Rahu.

Solar Eclipse Myths

The solar eclipse has inspired many mythical stories and influenced human behavior. Even today, eclipses of the Sun are considered bad omens in many cultures. more

Watching Lunar Eclipses

A lunar eclipse can be seen with the naked eye, unlike solar eclipses, which have special safety requirements. more

December Solstice Facts

10 things you may not know about the December Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. more