Pentecost is a Christian celebration which occurs fifty days after the Christian celebration of Easter. It is also a celebration for the Jewish religion but in different circumstances. For the Christians, when counting the fifty days, Easter Sunday is included within the count. Therefore, Pentecost occurs on the seventh Sunday after Easter Sunday. The foundation of Pentecost arises from the Israeli people.
Prior to the arrival of Jesus, Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks began as a celebration day for the Israeli people. In the Book of Leviticus 23:15-16, the Lord spoke to Moses saying “You shall count therefore from the morrow after the Sabbath, wherein you offered the sheaf of firstfruits, seven full weeks. Even unto the morrow after the seventh week be expired, that is to say, fifty days, and so you shall offer a new sacrifice to the Lord.”1 The ‘new sacrifice’ mentioned was an offering to the Lord in the House of God as a thanksgiving of a harvest. The Pentecost celebration within the Jewish community is also known as the “Giving of Torah” or a spiritual redemption from bondage to the idols and to immorality.
The Christian population brought the Pentecost celebration into their religion based on the facts from the New Testament of the Bible. After Jesus died on the cross, He rose from the tomb on the day Christians call Easter Sunday. He remained on the Earth for forty days, walking with His disciples and teaching them the word of God. In the Book of Acts 1:3, the Bible states “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God.”
On the fortieth day, Jesus again spoke, according to the Book of Acts 1:8, stating to His disciples that “you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you..” The disciples returned to Jerusalem and abode in the “upper room” along with Mary, the mother of Jesus and other persons numbering about one hundred and twenty.6 Suddenly, the room was filled with a sound of mighty wind “And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon everyone of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues..” This event is known in Christian communities as the Pentecost.
The day of Pentecost for some churches is the celebration of the beginning of the modern church, one in which the Holy Spirit was sent. When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, they began to speak many languages. This miracle was given so that the disciples could spread the word of Jesus to many people throughout many different lands and these people would understand the word of God given to all by Jesus.
Color used for Pentecost
The color red is used mainly in Western churches. Red signifies the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit set upon the disciples of Jesus on Pentecost Sunday. The vestments worn by ministers and priests are the color red. Some Western churches place red flowers within the church and some include red banners and to signify the blowing of the wind when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples.
A different color, green, is used within the Eastern Churches. Greenery, such as branches or shrubbery, is carried throughout services. The color green depicts “life and growth” of which the parishioners grow spiritually through the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Whitsunday or White Sunday
Pentecost is also known as Whitsunday or White Sunday in some communities. It is unknown where the term originated. One idea is that White Sunday refers to the baptizing on this day of followers who have converted to Christian religion. When the baptizing occurs, those involved wear white garments and hence, the name of “White Sunday”. Another theory focuses on the meaning of Whitsunday to be “Wisdom Sunday” as this is the day when the Holy Spirit passed the Wisdom of God to the disciples.
Pentecost is a day of celebration occurring fifty days after Easter. It is a celebration of a new beginning for all whether it is for the celebration of the new church, a celebration for renewal of spirit within oneself and/or a celebration of the Holy Spirit giving God’s wisdom to the disciples. Churches throughout the world celebrate this day whether by the Jewish faith or Christian faith, Pentecost is a day of the new spirit, a day of a new beginning.