Among all the Christian holidays, Pentecost is the one that has the clear connection with Easter, as it is celebrated on the 50th day from Easter Sunday.
According to the New Testament, in 50 days after Christ’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended from the heaven upon the Apostles. This Pentecost Sunday is basically the commemoration of the Holy Spirit and the Christian Church, as according to the Bible, on the 50th day, Christ said to his followers to go out there and spread the God’s word. Pentecost, or in Australian manner – Whitsunday, is a day that Christians celebrate with awe. So, there are special traditions which are followed on this day.
The main facts of traditional observance of Whitsunday
Although Pentecost is not an official holiday, the fact that it always falls on Sunday makes it simpler for Australians to observe and they do celebrate it. On Pentecost, people commemorate not only the Holy Spirit but also “the birth” of the Church, as by descending on the Apostles, the Holy Spirit gave them the possibility to speak different languages and so to share the faith in the mighty God.
Needless to say, the centerpiece of the religious celebration lies in attending the divine services which take place in all the Christian churches all over the country. During the services, the priests read the extracts from the Bible, particularly emphasizing the sacred meaning and power of the Holy Spirit. Quite often, the worships finish with church plays, which usually attract the young people from the community to participate and so they act out the scenes from the Bible.
The main symbol of Pentecost in Western culture is a red color which prevails in the clothes of choir and priests and symbolizes fire of the Holy Spirit and the joy spread around the world. In order to add more red color and represent another symbol of Whitsunday, the red banners would be hung on the church’s walls. While moving, they resemble the wind blowing and the wind symbolizes the movement of the mighty Holy Spirit.
As in the Easter church, people decorate their houses and churches with the green branches and flowers. In the Western churches, people bring red flowers as a symbol of the life renewal. For Australia, it is typical to decorate the preaching area with the poinsettia, the plant that has red leaves. It’s not unusual to see the picturing of the dove on Whitsunday, as it’s another symbol of spreading the God’s word and sharing the religion.
All in all, Pentecost, or Whitsunday, is observed by all Christian communities, even though the Orthodox church may do it on another day according to the Gregorian calendar. It is a big holiday that reminds us about the power of God, the resurrection of Christ, and the all-embracing Holy Spirit.