Sunday, 19th May 2013
Pentecost Sunday, which celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Virgin Mary, is a moveable feast.
Like the dates of most other moveable feasts, the date of Pentecost Sunday depends on the date of Easter. Pentecost always falls 50 days after Easter (counting both Easter and Pentecost), but since the date of Easter changes every year, the date of Pentecost does as well.
Pentecost comes from the Greek, meaning Fiftieth Day, as it is the 50th Day after Easter Sunday, 10 days after Ascension Day. It was the Greek name for the Jewish festival of Shavuot, although the dates for the two celebrations rarely correspond.
In the Orthodox church, Pentecost falls on the same day as Trinity Sunday.
Pentecost is also known as Whitsunday (the old-English for White Sunday) in the UK and other English speaking areas.
The day after Pentecost is sometimes called Whit Monday and is a holiday in many countries.
Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit as described in Acts, Chapter 2, when tongues of fire are said to have descended from heaven causing the disciples to start speaking in many different languages and leading to the conversion of some 3,000 witnesses.