Whitsun, also known as Whit Sunday, is a Christian observance mainly celebrated in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Taking place on the seventh Sunday after Easter, the observance marks the Christian festival of Pentecost.
But when is Whitsun 2022 and how is the festival observed?
Here’s what you need to know.
When is Whitsun 2022?
Whitsun falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter celebrations, which is roughly 49 days after Easter Sunday.
In 2022, this event will take place on 5 June.
There is no separate date for those who follow the Orthodox Church as the way Pentecost is observed differs.
As the date of Whitsun is decided according to the date of Easter, this changes every year, making it a moveable feast.
The earliest date Whitsun took place was on 10 May in 1818.
Is there a Whitsun bank holiday?
Since 1871, the day after Whitsun, Whit Monday, was celebrated as a bank holiday in the UK, but this was changed in 1971.
From 1972, we now have the Spring Bank Holiday on the last Monday of May to replace it.
This year, the Spring Bank Holiday is Thursday 2 June, as the bank holiday has been shifted to create a four day weekend to celebrate the Queen’s platinum Jubilee.
Are there Whitsun school holidays?
Whitsun School holidays have been replaced by the Summer half term break, which changes according to local authorities.
However, the half term usually covers the Spring Bank holiday, which this year has been moved for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Many local authorities have put this year’s Summer half term between Monday 30 May to Friday 3 June 2022, but check with the schools and council’s timetable in your local authority to see if these dates applies to you too.
What is Whitsun?
Whitsun is the name used in Britain to commemorate the Holy day of Pentecost, where Catholics, Anglicans and Methodists believe the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ as they celebrated the Feast of Weeks, a Jewish festival, described in the Acts of the Apostles.
In Eastern Christianity, Pentecost can refer to the entire fifty days of Easter. But since this festival depends on Easter, it is a moveable feast.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Pentecost is one of twelve Great feasts and is a Solemnity, a feast of high rank, in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
Pentecost derives from the Greek Πεντηκοστή (Pentēkostē) meaning "fiftieth", and links to the Jewish festival Shavuot celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover.
The name “Whitsun” comes from “White Sunday” from the Old English homilies, “the Holy Ghost, whom thou didst send on Whit-Sunday".
In the UK, Whitsun took on some characteristics of Beltane, the Gaelic May Day festival.
How is Whitsun observed?
Whitsun marked the first holiday of summer, similarly to how Beltane marks the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice.
Due to its joyous nature, Whitsun was a time for celebration and marked in the form of fêtes, fairs, pageants and parades.
In the south of England, Whitsun ales, and morris dancing was a popular tradition, but in the north Whit walks, Club days and wakes were popular.
In the North West of England, church and chapel parades called whit walks still occur, sometimes taking place on the Friday before Whitsun, known as Whit Friday.
Parades adorn the street, with brass bands, choirs and fairs.
In Whaddon, Cambridgeshire, a Whitsun tradition includes singing a unique song around the village before and on Whitsun.
Another tradition is to also wear white garments, and women are encouraged to wear white to church.