Whit Monday, or Whitmonday, is the day after Whit Sunday, also known as Pentecost. In most countries that observe this holiday, it is essentially the public observance of Whit Sunday.
Pentecost, in the Christian religion, is the final holiday of the Easter Season, and occurs fifty days after Easter. On this day, the disciples were gathered together in a house, and a sound like a rushing wind came from heaven and filled the house where they were resting. Parted tongues of fire appeared before the disciples. The Holy Ghost filled the disciples and they began to speak with “divers tongues”.
Some Christians view Pentecost as the beginning of the modern Church. As the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, they began to speak many languages, and were then able to spread the word of Jesus to many people.
It is important to note that Pentecost was originally celebrated by the Hebrews as the day that the Torah was given to the Hebrew people after the Exodus, and still is celebrated as such today. In Hebrew, it is called ‘Shavuot’ or ‘Shavu’oth’. Shavuot is also a festival to celebrate the harvest of wheat in Israel1. In the Bible, the passage above begins with ‘When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.’ The disciples were gathered together to observe Shavuot when they were filled with the Holy Ghost.
Many countries observe Whit Monday as a public holiday. These include France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland and several other European and Caribbean countries. In Germany, Whit Monday remains a day of Holy Obligation, as it was for many years in other countries. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it has been converted from a Holy Day of Obligation to a bank holiday.