Pentecost is a Christian observance commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus Christ’s disciples, according to the Bible. Many Christians in Canada celebrate Pentecost, which is also known as Pentecost Sunday, Whitsunday, or Whit Sunday.
Is Pentecost a Public Holiday?
Pentecost is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, May 23, 2021, and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Canada.
What Do People Do?
Many churches in Canada have special Pentecost services. Bible passages regarding the Holy Spirit’s descent on Jesus’ disciples are read out during the services. Some churches may organize special events, such as Pentecost services at seniors’ residences. Poems and songs dedicated to the Holy Spirit are read out or sung in some churches.
Sunday school activities focus on the events that took place during Pentecost, which is described in the New Testament in the Christian Bible. Activities include puzzles and games, take-home sheets that summarize what students learned in class, stained glass crafts, and colouring pages.
Whitsunday is not a statutory public holiday in Canada.
According to the Christian Bible, it was on the 50th day after Easter when the apostles prayed together and the Holy Spirit descended on them. They received the “gift of tongues” – the ability to speak in other languages – and immediately began to preach about Jesus Christ to Jewish people from all over the world who flocked to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot.
Christian Pentecost not only commemorated the Holy Spirit’s visit but also marked the birth of the Christian Church. Although it is not certain when Christians started observing Pentecost, it may have been early as the first century CE. Whitsuntide, also referred to as Whitsun in modern times, is the period beginning with the Saturday before Whitsunday and ending the following Saturday.
According to church tradition, Pentecost is about seven weeks after Easter Sunday, or 50 days after Easter, including Easter Day. In some Orthodox churches, Whitsunday 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. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.
The symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit and include flames, fire, wind, and a dove.