Whit Monday is a public holiday the day after Pentecost Sunday, otherwise known as Whit Sunday. Pentecost is the Christian holy day that celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit onto the twelve apostles and other Christians, 50 days after Jesus Christ died on the cross in the first century AD. This day also signals the end of the Christian season of Lent.
As the date of Pentecost is directly related to the date of Easter Sunday, which is determined by the full moon in March, Whit Monday is a moveable date and occurs anywhere from mid-May to early-June.
On Whit Monday in France, government offices, banks, schools and many shops are closed. Museums like the Musee de Louvre in Paris, and the Le Chateau du Clos Luce – Parc Leonardo da Vinci in the Loire Valley are open on Whit Monday, as are many other countryside chateaus and most wine tasting caves. And, of course, les boulangeries are open in the cities and towns for everyone’s morning croissant and coffee!
Being warmer weather, this public holiday is popular for outdoor gatherings of families. From picnicking, to sports, to village festivals, the French people use the day to enjoy food, wine, family and friendships.
The Whit Monday public holiday has had a few challenges in the recent past. In 2003, fifteen thousand elderly people died in France during a heat-wave. In 2005, the French government cancelled the Whit Monday public holiday and asked the French people to donate their wages for that day to help provide better community care. Over the next three years the French workers protested and finally, in 2008, the public holiday was reinstated.