Pentecost is a major Christian observance in the Bahamas that takes place on the fiftieth day of Easter – 49 days after Easter Sunday. It is also known as Whit Sunday, and is celebrated with a Whit Monday public holiday each year.
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Pentecost is the final celebration of the seven-week Easter period. According to Christian belief, Pentecost commemorates the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and disciples of Jesus, giving them the ability to speak in different languages to share the good news about Jesus.
The name “Whit” Sunday and Monday comes from the white clothes traditionally worn by those being baptised on this popular day for baptisms.
To understand the place of Whit Sunday and Monday on the Bahamas holiday calendar, you have to first of see the progression of the Easter Season in the broadest possible sense. It all begins with Carnival and then the beginning of the Lenten fast, which lasts for 40 days.
Holy Week, running from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday is the central focus. Good Friday marks the end of Lent in Bahamas and is a day of church attendance and of consuming fish in large quantities. Easter itself is a huge celebration both at church and in the home and a time for public cookouts and colourful regattas.
Then comes Ascension Day 40 days after Easter and Whit Sunday on day 49. This is the end of the season and the celebration of the founding of the Church on Pentecost 20 centuries ago. Whit Monday, which follows, is considered the official beginning of the “public witness of the Church” and is a transition day as the Easter season finally ends.