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Pentecost 2017 and 2018

Many Christians in Finland celebrate the feast of Pentecost on the seventh Sunday after Easter. The Easter season concludes with Pentecost.

20174 JunSunWhit Sunday
201820 MaySunWhit Sunday

This feast usually falls between the middle of May and the middle of June. It was originally the name of a Jewish feast that took place on the 50th day after the first day of Passover. Pentecost is derived from the Greek word for 50.

Christians believe that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles on this day. Tongues of fire appeared over their heads as they were meeting in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit filled them, and they began to speak in different languages. There were travellers from a number of countries in Jerusalem at this time, and the Apostles were able to speak to them all in their own languages. The Apostles told the people gathered in Jerusalem about God. They baptised several thousand people that day, and a number of people consider Pentecost the birthday of many Christian churches. Christians have observed the feast since the third century.

Pentecost is also known as Helluntai or Whitsunday in Finland. Helluntai comes from Swedish words that mean holy day. Whitsunday is derived from White Sunday. Many people would wear white when they were baptised. Pentecost is still a common day for baptisms in Finland.

Many Christians in Finland begin their observance by attending church. The hymns sung in church on Pentecost include hymns to the Holy Spirit. Red is the liturgical colour for the feast, and Catholic priests wear red when they celebrate Mass on this day. Church services may be celebrated on Pentecost with additions such as more songs and the use of incense. Some churches hold evening services the day before Pentecost. Evening prayer is sometimes said before these services.

Finns enjoy getting together with relatives and friends for a meal on Sundays. Appetisers served before this meal might be cheese, soup or salad. Chicken, pork and meatballs are some of the meat dishes that might be served as a main course. Chicken and pork are two of the most popular meats in Finland. Fish dishes include herring and perch. Some of the side dishes served are carrot casserole, mashed potatoes and potato salad. Rye bread and flatbread are two of the types of bread frequently served. The meal may end with a dessert of cheesecake, apple pie or ice cream. Desserts made with lingonberries or bilberries are popular. Sweet porridge is sometimes served. Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the country. Many people drink tea.

A meal during this season might include eggs that have been dyed. One tale in Finnish folklore tells that someone who does not have a sweetheart by Pentecost will not be able to find one all summer.

Pentecost is a public holiday and many shops are closed. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland also considers the day after Pentecost a holy day.