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Pentecost is a holiday of Christianity. Pentacost is seven weeks after Easter (or 50 days after Pascha). It is also just 10 days after the Ascension. It comes from the Greek word Pentékosté, meaning "fiftieth", and originally referring to Shavuot (the second day of Passover, on the 16th of Nisan, is the first day of counting the Omer; Shavuot is celebrated after seven full weeks, on the fiftieth day). It is also known as Whitsun (Whitsunday), because of the white robes worn this day by those newly baptized.
Christian churches that emphasize the Holy Spirit celebrate Pentecost as the anniversary of the disciples' being filled with the Spirit, as described in the New Testament in Acts chapter 2. Most Christians recognize this event as the birth of the Church.
The Hebrew festival was originally connected with celebrating the first fruits of the spring harvest, but the Christian festival lost most of its associations to the newer theological meaning.
- In Italy it was customary to scatter rose leaves from the ceiling of the churches to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues; hence in Sicily and elsewhere in Italy Whitsunday is called Pascha rosatum. The Italian name Pascha rossa comes from the red colours of the vestments used on Whitsunday.
- In France it was customary to blow trumpets during Divine service, to recall the sound of the mighty wind which accompanied the Descent of the Holy Spirit.
- In England the gentry amused themselves with horse races. The Whitsun Ales or merrymakings are almost wholly obsolete in England. At these ales the Whitsun plays were performed.
- At Vespers of Pentecost in the Oriental Churches the extraordinary service of genuflexion, accompanied by long poetical prayers and psalms, takes place. On Pentecost the Russians carry flowers and green branches in their hands.
When is Pentecost?