FAQGermanyHolidays in Germany

Whit Sunday

Whit Sunday

Due to the white clothing the freshly baptized wore on Pentecost, the English call this occasion Whitsunday. Some churches perform a ritual called “swinging the Holy Ghost,” where they lower a sculpted dove into the audience. When people overdress, others jokingly refer to them as “dressing like a Whitsun ox,” and they adorn cattle. “Hunting the green man” refers to an ancient paganic game in which kids hunt a young man covered in moss and leaves.

Historical relevance

In the New Testament, the apostles began speaking in tongues when the Holy Spirit descended. Saint Peter then delivered the first Christian sermon, converting 3,000 people who were baptized, marking the start of the Christian church. In Western churches, red symbolizes the Holy Spirit’s “tongues of fire,” worn by clergy and congregants, with the altar covered in a red cloth.

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What Do Individuals Do on Whit Sunday?

    • Pentecost is a significant day for baptisms worldwide.
    • It’s a time for family gatherings, picnics, and outings.
    • In Poland, Pentecost is known as “The Green Holiday,” and people decorate their homes with green branches for blessings.
    • Morris dancing and “Whitsun ale” in England connect Whitsunday to spring celebrations.
    • In Oelde, North Rhine-Westphalia, two squares feature large wreaths (Pfingstenkranz) made of greenery and poles.
    • These wreaths are nine meters tall and serve as a focal point for traditional songs and dancing.
    • Some regions, like southern Germany, still have parades with decorated prizes.
    • In rural areas, people would move cattle to higher fields at Pentecost, adorning the largest ones with flowers and foliage.

Whit Sunday Fulfillment in 2023 and 2024

2023 Sun 28 May Whit Sunday Christian, widespread regional holiday Brandenburg
2024 Sun 19 May Whit Sunday Christianity, observation All except BB
2024 Sun 19 May Whit Sunday Christian, widespread regional holiday Brandenburg

German Society on Whit Sunday

On Pentecost, German society is much the same as on Sundays. Banks, shops, post offices, and other businesses are closed. Nevertheless, certain tourist-oriented shops might be open, and shops at train stations, airports, and along motorways are typically available. Alcohol sales, public performances, and dancing are all subject to various limitations. There may be some regional variances from the typical Sunday schedule for public transportation services.

Whit Sunday: Is it a Public Holiday?

Whit Sunday 2024 will be observed as a Christian holiday in Brandenburg and as a Christian observance in 15 other states.

In conclusion, Pentecost is a diverse and culturally rich celebration, marked by baptisms, family gatherings, and unique customs worldwide. From “The Green Holiday” in Poland to cattle parades in rural areas, it showcases a tapestry of traditions reflecting this religious observance’s significance and connection to nature.

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Public Holidays in Germany

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