Pentecost is the festival when Christians worldwide celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is celebrated on the Sunday 50 days after Easter (the name comes from the Greek ‘pentekoste’ that is translated as “fiftieth”). And 10 days after Ascension Day.
In fact, Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian church. Because it’s the start of the mission of the church in the world. It’s the moment that God became present with his Holy Spirit in the world. He wasn’t outside of us, but he came in us.
The Holy Spirit is the third part of the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That is the way Christians understand God, who is so much more we can grasp and understand!
Pentecost is a happy festival for churches. Ministers in church often wear robes with red in the design as a symbol of the flames in which the Holy Spirit came to earth. Churches celebrate this day in many different ways.
In the tradition of the church through the ages, many symbols are used to represent the Holy Spirit and Pentecost. Probably you are familiar with the symbols of flames, wind, the breath of God and the dove.
Below: Medieval western illustration of the Pentecost from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century)
The first Pentecost
Pentecost originated as a Jewish harvest festival called ‘Shavuot’. It’s the festival where the first harvest is offered to God and where also big celebrations happened. The apostles were celebrating this festival when the Holy Spirit descended on them. And when that happened, people heard the sound of a very strong wind. And people saw on or above the head of the disciples something that looked like tongues of fire.
The apostles then found themselves speaking in foreign languages, inspired by the Holy Spirit. People who observed everything happening thought that they must be drunk, but the apostle Peter told the crowd that the apostles were full of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost is a special day for any Christian, but it is emphasized particularly by Pentecostal churches. Pentecostal Christians believe in the direct experience of the Holy Spirit by believers, not only on Pentecost but in their whole life.
When is Pentecost?
Pentecost 2021 : May 23rd
Pentecost 2022 : June 5th