Whit Monday in Saint Martin is celebrated each year on the day after Pentecost and this year it will be marked from May 20. The day, which is also called ‘Pentecost Monday’ or ‘Monday of the Holy Spirit,’ is a Christian holiday celebrated in the Easter season, usually in May or June. Observed in many European countries and former colonies, Whit Monday is the last celebration of the Easter season and occurs 90 days after ‘Ash Wednesday,’ a holiday that kicks off Lent in the Christian tradition. During Whit Monday celebrations in Saint Martin, people take the day to enjoy themselves with family and friends.
History of Whit Monday (Saint Martin)
Whit Monday and its preceding holiday, Pentecost, have been around for centuries, although their exact date of origin is as yet unverified. Some accounts show Pentecost and Whit Monday celebrations beginning in the first century, while Whit Monday has definitely been celebrated in medieval times.
Some sources believe the English custom of aristocrats giving their households a week of rest during this period spurred this tradition and became a post-Pentecost celebration in every country and colony with practicing Christians. During this time, courts did not operate, agricultural activity was paused, and even regular work was forbidden. It eventually evolved from a week-long holiday to a three-day event, and from there, to the current holiday on Monday. Even today, some countries like Pentecost and Whit Monday celebrations, and the holiday even has another name — ‘Second Day of Pentecost.’ Celebrations took on various forms, from parades to fairs, to foot races, and more. People especially took the time to commemorate the Holy Spirit, who, according to the Bible, appeared before Jesus Christ’s most loyal disciples 50 days after his resurrection, to entrust them with the task of evangelism. From there, these apostles began to roam the world and spread the word of Christ, and so the Holy Spirit enabled each of them with the power to speak many languages. After this event, it is said that St. Peter delivered the very first Christian sermon to a crowd of around 3,000 people — an event most Christians believe to be the origin of the Christian church.
Where in the medieval ages, Whit Monday celebrations rivaled that of Easter or Christmas, today’s festivities are less popular, but the states and countries that do celebrate this festival, do so wholeheartedly. As recently as 2018, the Pope even turned Whit Monday into a fixed annual celebration called ‘Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.’
Whit Monday (Saint Martin) timeline
Theologians think this is the year Whit Monday celebrations commence.
The weekend of Pentecost plus Whit Monday makes up an entire week of celebration called 'Whit Week.'
Special 'Whitsun-ale' or 'Church-ale' parties, featuring ale as the main attraction, are held and most of them are fundraising events for the local parish or church.
H.G. Wells' 'The Invisible Man' centers on important events taking place around Whit Monday and its following day.
Whit Monday (Saint Martin) FAQs
Is Whit Monday a public holiday?
Like many former colonies, Côte d’Ivoire and French Polynesia among them, Whit Monday is a day off for Saint Martin.
Why is it called Whit Monday?
Whit Monday is likely a derivation of ‘Whitsun’ or can also be taken from the Anglo-Saxon ‘wit,’ in reference to the Holy Spirit bestowing the apostles with wisdom.
What is the Sunday after Whitsunday called?
In Catholic tradition, the week following Whitsunday is ‘Whitsuntide’ or ‘Whit Week.’
How to Observe Whit Monday (Saint Martin)
Attend religious celebrations
This time of the year is usually filled with different religious activities and offers loads of different choices for your Whit Monday celebrations. Go to a church sermon, attend a mass, or pray with the devotees in front of an altar.
Visit loved ones
Whit Monday celebrations also include a visit to friends and family for a feast or a party. Plan a special meal, invite your gang, and enjoy your time together in the spirit of this festival.
Wear red and white
Depending on the country, red or white is the color most associated with this holiday. Wear red or white on this day, decorate your home with pops of this color, or put out flowers of this color as a tribute to the day.
5 Whit Monday Facts From Around The World
Germany's obligatory celebration
Germany observes Whit Monday as a 'holy day of obligation,' which, according to the Catholic Church, is a day when the faithful have to attend Mass and avoid work or recreation to focus on worship.
Britain's earliest bank holiday
Decreed a bank holiday by an 1871 act, Whit Monday became one of Britain's first bank holidays until 1967, when it went back to a normal working day.
France's much-loved public holiday
A 2005 rule to turn Whit Monday into a regular working day garnered so much opposition — millions of workers stayed home on the day — that it halted regular activities for the day; the holiday was reinstated in 2008.
Liechtenstein's favorite holiday
The German-speaking microstate loves Whit Monday so much that it is on par with their Christmas celebrations.
America's 'Dutch Fourth of July'
Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania celebrated Whit Monday in such a major way — they ate, sang, drank, and danced — that the celebration was called the 'Dutch Fourth of July' from 1835 to 1865.
Why Whit Monday (Saint Martin) is Important
It's not just another day off
To many Christians, Whit Monday forms an all-important continuation of the Pentecost celebrations. It also marks the end of Easter and the beginning of ordinary time, plus, it's the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.
It has a rich history
Whit Monday's 2000-year legacy has taken this festival to places. It has been one of the first bank holidays in multiple countries, inspired the U.K.'s half-term holiday, and has traveled the world into most countries and former colonies, including Saint Martin.
The global uniter
From Saint Martin to Monaco, to Belgium, to Saint Lucia, to Ukraine, to the Bahamas — more than 25 countries officially observe Whit Monday. Around the world, Christians unite each year on this day to commemorate the Holy Spirit and his descent, building a large, global community of worshippers.
Whit Monday (Saint Martin) dates