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Whit Monday History & Traditions


May 16 2016
Whit Monday History & Traditions

Whit Monday is a religious holiday which is observed in many European countries and is the day after Whit Sunday the seventh Sunday after Easter. This year Whit Monday is on the 16th May. Each year the date is different as it follows on from Easter which also changes each year.  

In many countries, Whit Monday is known as "the second day of Pentecost" or "the second Whitsun".

Also known as Pentecost, it is observed fifty days (approx. seven weeks) after Easter. It marks the end of the Easter cycle that began 90 days ago with Ash Wednesday at the start of Lent.

Whit Monday is known as the “Monday of the Holy Spirit" or "Day of the Holy Spirit" and is the first day of the afterfeast of Pentecost, being dedicated specifically to the honour of God the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost marks the day the Holy Spirit visited the disciples and inspired them to go out and preach the word of Christ. This day is now celebrated as the anniversary of the birth of the Christian church and is traditionally a time of baptism.

The name Whit Sunday, or White Sunday, derives from the custom of wearing white while being baptised.

Until 1967 Whit Monday was a bank holiday in the United Kingdom. It was replaced by the 'spring bank holiday', which always falls on the last Monday in May, but many people in the UK still celebrate Whit Sunday and Whit Monday.

Whit Monday Traditions Around the World

Whit Monday is celebrated quite differently around the world, with different traditions evolving over the years.

In many countries Whit Monday parades and walks which take place. For example, in some areas of the UK there are processions of children who walk the streets in a formal and ceremonial manner.

In the North West Whit walks and parades are led by local brass bands, clergies, dignitaries and uniformed organisations, such as Girl Guides and Scouts. People taking part are usually all dressed in white.

The walks often end up at a Whit Ale which is a type of village fair where you will see sports, competitions, dancing and, of course, drinking and eating.

In the south west of England you can see Morris dancing, cheese rolling and throwing competitions.

Another tradition for Whit Monday all over the world is relaxing and spending time with loved ones and having picnics.

In Germany people decorate public areas with red flowers to signify the fire of the Holy Spirit. In Australia, Whit Monday is not a public holiday but red and white flowers decorate churches and candles are lit to celebrate the Holy day.

In Hungary, there are skill testing games on horseback which can include things like archery, fire breathing and jousting.

In some northern European countries, such as Finland and Estonia, the custom of painting eggs happens at Whitsun rather than Easter. This is because chickens don’t start laying eggs until later in the year due to less daylight. This is a tradition that has been carried on even though other countries typically decorate eggs at Easter.


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