Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

Christians, have a blessed Whit Monday

Whit Monday is the day after Pentecost, which Christians commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus Christ’s disciples. Some call it the birthday of the Christian Church.

Christian Pentecost commemorates the Holy Spirit’s visit to the apostles who received the “gift of tongues” on the 50th day after Easter.  It also marks the birth of the Christian Church. Although it is not certain when Pentecost was first observed by Christians, it may have been early as the first century. Pentecost occurs roughly seven weeks after Easter Sunday, or 50 days after Easter, including Easter Day. Like Pentecost, Whit Monday is movable because it is determined by the Easter date. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.

Whit Monday used to be one of the major annual holidays in the Pennsylvania Dutch country in the United States. From around 1835 to just after the Civil War, Whit Monday was referred to as the “Dutch Fourth of July” in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where people came to eat, drink and be entertained.

In some Orthodox churches, Whit Monday 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.

Whit Monday gets its English name from Whitsunday, or Whit Sunday, which referred to the white garments worn on Pentecost by the newly baptized. The symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit and include flames, wind, and a dove.

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