The word Pentecost has been derived from the ancient Greek term Pentekoste which literally means "the fiftieth [day]". Pentecost is celebrated in the Christian community to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and also on the other disciples of Jesus Christ about seven weeks of fifty days from the Day of Easter.
As described in the Acts of the Apostles, there were one hundred and twenty disciples of Jesus Christ at that time. Some Christians attribute this day to be the day of “Birth of the Church”. Pentecost occurs on the tenth day after the Ascension Thursday.
It is also sometimes known as the Whitsunday or Whit Sunday. In ancient Israel too, Pentecost was celebrated. The day was commemorated as the day of giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. In Judaism the day is still celebrated as Shavout.
Date of Pentecost:
According to the pattern of the present day Jewish calendar, Pentecost is observed after fifty days from Passover. In the ancient times, there was confusion among the Jewish people regarding the date as mentioned in the written texts of Dead Sea Scrolls or the Mishnah or Oral Torah. As per the Christian traditions, Pentecost is a Moveable Cycle as a part of the ecclesiastical year. According to this set of belief Pentecost in always observed after seven weeks of Easter Sunday; that is after fifty days of Easter (inclusive of the Easter Day). Put in other words, this implies that Pentecost is the eighth Sunday when counted from the Day of Easter, which is calculated according to the norms of Computus.
Pentecost in the next five years:
- In 2014, Pentecost is on Sunday, June 08.
- In 2015, Pentecost is on Sunday, May 24.
- In 2016, Pentecost is on Sunday, May 15.
- In 2017, Pentecost is on Sunday, June 04.
- In 2018, Pentecost is on Sunday, May 20.
- According to the Old Testament the origin of Pentecost is attributed to the Jewish Harvest Festival that was known as the Festival of Weeks. The mention of it is found in the Hebrew Bible.
- The Biblical narrative of Pentecost is found in the Second Chapter of the Book of Acts where it is stated that there were one hundred and twenty followers of Jesus present on that day including the Apostles, Virgin Mary and some other women disciples who received Baptism in the “Upper Room” in the Holy Spirit.
- It is during this event that Apostle Peter announced that the Prophecy of "I will pour out my spirit" has been fulfilled, and from then on all believers, Jews and Gentiles, alike would experience the continual outpouring.
- However, since as per the traditions, women were not allowed in the Upper Room or Cenacle, and since it is an established fact that women disciples including Jesus’ Mother Mary were present during the time of descent of the Holy Ghost, it is often suggested that the house mentioned was actually the House of God or the Herod’s Temple that is located on Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
- It is here that the Judeans from all over the world were present in the temple, and they witnessed the receiving of the gift of Spiritual Birth of the Holy Spirit.
Public Life in United States:
In the United States, this is not considered to be a federal holiday, as such businesses and organizations operate according to their regular schedule. However, since the observance occurs on a Sunday it becomes a non working day for many Americans, and most schools and institutions are closed on this day. The same is applicable in case of public transportation that runs as per schedule on this day.
In the United States, people observe the Pentecost as the mark of God’s all encompassing kindness which envelops not only the Jews but all and sundry. God’s favor and care was spread from Judaism to all people, and this spirit of unity in diversity is looked up to on this day. Christians in the United States share with one another the meaning and perspective of Pentecost from their point of view. In spite of diversity in language, culture and backgrounds, fellow feeling between men can be enhanced through their worship. Many churches hold Mass Worship Service on this day.