Pentecost Day In France: What Is it And What Can You Expect?

Pentecost Monday is a public holiday in France that occurs in the month of May. Here’s a brief explanation of what it is and what to expect.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 11, 2024  
Pentecost Monday and Sunday in France: what and when is it?
Pentecost Monday and Sunday in France: what and when is it?

When And What is Pentecost Day In France?

The word Pentecost comes from the Ancient Greek word pentếkosta, which means “the fiftieth day.” True to its namesake, Pentecost occurs precisely 50 Days after Easter Sunday and officially ends the seven-week Easter celebrations.

The Story of Pentecost and Why it’s Considered the Birth of the Catholic Church

Here is a condensed version of the story of Peter and Pentecost.

At Pentecost, the apostles and their followers were gathered in a room. Jews from all over the world were gathered with Peter, the leader of the apostles and the eleven.

Suddenly a great wind from heaven blew, and a flame appeared as a tongue of fire which split itself into many individual flames above the heads of all those present.

The holy spirit came upon these people, and each began to speak in tongues. Despite the fact that many had no common language, they were able to understand each other. Others were not so blessed and accused those who spoke in tongues of being drunk, but Peter told the crowd that this phenomenon was not intoxication but rather was the work of the holy spirit prophesized in the scriptures.

The holy spirit is God’s power in action, his active force. (Micah 3:8; Luke 1:35) God sends out his spirit by projecting his energy to any place to accomplish his will.—Psalm 104:30; 139:7.

Peter then called all those present to be baptized, and about 3,000 people were baptized on that day. These people were among the first Catholics, and Peter is the first pope of the Catholic church.

This is why Pentecost is considered to be the birth of the Catholic church.

 Below is a painting on display at the Louvre depicting the event of Pentecost. Painted by French painter Jean II Restout in 1732

Pentecost Monday and Sunday in France: what and when is it?

What to expect on Pentecost in France

Technically, there are two days of Pentecost.

  1. “La Pentecôte,” known as Pentecost or Whitsunday in English and
  2. “Lundi de Pentecôte,” known as Pentecost Monday and Whit Monday in English.

Unlike Victory in Europe Day, which is a civil public holiday in France, Pentecost Monday is a religious celebration and holiday.

Kids have a day off from school, grocery stores are usually closed or closed early, banks and most businesses give their employees the day off, and public transportation runs on a reduced special holiday schedule, if at all.

Related: Read about the other holidays that occur in May in France

How Pentecost is celebrated in France

Pentecost Pilgrimage from Notre Dame paris to Cartres

Many people attend a special church service. Since Pentecost Monday is a public holiday, many people spend the day at home with friends and family.

Others attend a yearly Pentecost pilgrimage where up to 12,000 pilgrims from 30 countries walk from the cathedrals of Notre Dame in Paris, through the streets of Paris, the countryside to Chartres. Pilgrims are organized into groups of 20 to 60 people.

The pilgrimage to Chartres originated in the 12th century and was revived in 1983.

The exact date of Pentecost changes each year.

Since Pentecost occurs 50 days after Easter and Easter is a movable feast (a religious holiday or feast whose date changes), the date of Pentecost changes each year and can occur in either May or June.

Here are the exact dates for Pentecost past and future for reference:

pentecost schedule changes each year

Pentecost Monday in other countries

Pentecost Monday used to be a bank holiday in Ireland and the UK, but as of 1973, it’s no longer.

It is, however, a public holiday in many other countries, including:

Austria, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Gibraltar, Hungary, Iceland, Côte d’Ivoire, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Saint Lucia, Solomon Islands and Switzerland. (source)

Have a great Pentecost!

pintrest pin about Pentecost in France


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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