Whit Monday in Belgium
Whit Monday, also known as Pentecost Monday or "Lundi de Pentecôte" in French and "Pinkstermaandag" in Dutch, is a significant Christian holiday in Belgium. It is observed on the day after Pentecost, which is 50 days after Easter Sunday. As the date of Easter changes every year, so does the date of Whit Monday. It usually falls between the middle of May and the middle of June.
Whit Monday's celebration in Belgium dates back to the early Christian era when the country adopted Christianity as its religion. The origins of the holiday are rooted in the Bible's New Testament, which describes how the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and followers of Jesus Christ on Pentecost. This event is considered the birth of the Church, as it marked the beginning of the apostles' preaching and the spread of Christianity worldwide. Since then, Whit Monday has been observed as a public holiday in Belgium, and it is usually accompanied by various religious and secular festivities.
National customs for Whit Monday in Belgium
One of the main national customs for Whit Monday in Belgium is attending a special church service called the Pentecost Mass. During this Mass, the priest or pastor usually wears red vestments to symbolize the Holy Spirit's fiery presence. Hymns and prayers associated with the Holy Spirit are also performed during the service.
Another popular custom in Belgium is the "Pentecost Dove" tradition, where a wooden or paper dove is suspended from the church's ceiling during the Pentecost Mass. This dove represents the Holy Spirit descending upon the apostles and followers of Jesus, as described in the New Testament.
Local customs for Whit Monday in Belgium
In addition to national customs, there are several local customs and events held across Belgium to celebrate Whit Monday. For instance, many towns and cities organize processions, fairs, and other festivities to mark the holiday. These events often include live music, food, and various forms of entertainment for the whole family.
One of the most famous local events is the "Doudou Festival" in Mons, which is held annually on Whit Sunday and Whit Monday. This historical and folkloric celebration features a series of events, including a procession, a reenactment of the battle between Saint George and the dragon, and a traditional "Car d'Or" race, where participants push a heavy golden carriage through the streets of Mons.
Whit Monday is an important Christian holiday in Belgium, celebrated with a combination of religious and secular customs. From attending the Pentecost Mass to participating in local events and festivities, Belgians commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and the birth of the Church. With its rich history and diverse customs, Whit Monday continues to be a significant annual event in Belgium's cultural calendar.