Approximately 60 percent of French citizens are Roman Catholic which is why many of the public holidays in the country are related to the Catholic religion. Although Pentecost Sunday and Monday are Catholic holidays, the entire country celebrates, despite the fact that church and state have been separate in France is 1795 – although freedom of religious worship is recognised in the country.
|2020||31 May||Sun||Whit Sunday|
|1 Jun||Mon||Whit Monday|
|2021||23 May||Sun||Whit Sunday|
|24 May||Mon||Whit Monday|
History of the Holiday
Pentecost, also known as Whit Sunday, is the final celebration of the seven-week Easter period. This means it falls on different dates each year, much like Easter Sunday. The word “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word, pentekoste, which means “fiftieth.” The Bible says that on the fiftieth day after Easter, a noise that sounded like a violent wind filled the room where Jesus’ apostles had gathered. It was followed by a fire that split into several flames, each of which came to rest on the heads of the apostles. The apostles reported being filled with the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised before he ascended into heaven. This led the apostles to spread His word, all going in different directions to testify to the resurrection and baptise converts. The first Christians began to organise into communities under the direction of the apostles. Pentecost celebrates the beginning of evangelisation and the birth of the Christian church.
Traditions and Celebrations
All public offices, businesses and schools are closed in France in celebration of Pentecost. The Musee de Louvre, Le Chateau du Clos Luce, Parc Leonardo da Vinci are all open on Pentecost, however, as there are many events planned to celebrate the holiday at those locations. Families normally gather outdoors for picnics and sports while many villages hold festivals in honour of the holiday. The day is meant to be celebrated with family, friends, food and wine. It is also common for families to hold christenings and baptisms on that day, which is why the holiday is known as “Whit Sunday.” It refers to the white garments worn by the newly baptised.
In 2005, the French government removed Whit Monday as a public holiday and suggested changing the holiday to Solidarity Day. The holiday would focus on raising money for the disabled and elderly, but labour unions in France protested by taking Whit Monday off to continue the tradition. In 2008, Pentecost was reinstated as a national bank holiday and the French government now allows employers to create a Solidarity Day on any date.