Pentecost Monday is one of several public holidays in France that occurs in the month of May. Here’s a brief explanation of what it is, when it is and what you can expect if you happen to be in France on this day.
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, and despite the fact that many had no common language, they were able to understand each other. Others were not so blessed and accused those of speaking in tongues of being drunk, but Peter told the crowd that this phenomenon was not intoxication but rather this was the work of the holy spirit prophesized in scriptures.
[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”what is the holy spirit?”]
The holy spirit is God’s power in action, his active force. (Micah 3:8; Luke 1:
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
What to expect on Pentecost in France
Technically, there are two days of Pentecost.
- “La Pentecôte,” known as Pentecost or Whitsunday in English and
- “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 close early, banks and most businesses give their employees the day off, and public transportation run on a reduced special holiday schedule if at all.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=”You might be interested “] Read about the other holidays that occur in May in France
How Pentecost is celebrated in France
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 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!