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Orthodox Pentecost

Orthodox Pentecost 2018 and 2019

Orthodox Pentecost is a church holy day season that is observed by many Cypriots, who are predominantly Orthodox. Orthodox Pentecost Monday is both a national and church holiday in Cyprus and is also observed by the more than 250 million Orthodox believers scattered all around the world. Aside from Easter, Pentecost is the highest feast on the Orthodox calendar.

201828 MayMonOrthodox Whit Monday
201910 JunMonOrthodox Whit Monday

The date of Pentecost is determined by that of Easter, for, according to the Bible, it was seven weeks following Jesus’ Resurrection that He sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and other Christian disciples gathered in prayer in Jerusalem. Forty days following the Resurrection, Jesus ascended, and Ascension Day is also a Christian holiday. As Easter occurs about a week later, most years, on the Orthodox calendar, so does Pentecost. Generally, Orthodox Pentecost falls anywhere from late May to mid-June.

While Pentecost comes on a Monday, the previous Sunday is the scene of late-night vigils at many Orthodox churches. Churches may be adorned with flowers and other greenery, priest wear green too, and there are special liturgies and songs, mostly focusing on the Holy Spirit. This is called the “Trinity Sunday” service. On Pentecost Monday, also called “Holy Spirit Monday,” a very similar service will also be held. The following Tuesday is also celebrated, and fasting is forbidden for a week.

Many in the Western Church consider Pentecost to be the “Birthday of the Church.” In Orthodox thinking, however, the Church existed from the creation of Adam. Thus, they celebrate the special empowerment of the Church to carry out the Great Commission but not the beginning of a new entity.

Should you tour the island of Cyprus during Pentecost, here are some ideas on what to do while there:

  • Attend the Flood Festival, called “Katakysmos” in Greek, held every year in the town of Larnaka. This celebration looks back to flood of Noah and sees Noah as the “savior” of all animal and human life on earth. Special ceremonies take place in coastal towns, and there are large fairs set up along the seaside boardwalks. In connection with this festival, it is considered “good luck” to bet sprayed with sea water, so be careful if you attend and wish to remain dry. The festival lasts for a week or more and includes boating, swimming, singing, dancing, games, food stalls, and much more.
  • Visit Paphos. In this ancient Cypriot port city, you can investigate the relics of the distant past at Paphos Archaelogical Park. There are ancient tombs, forts, houses, theaters, mosaics, and more from pre-Christian times on the island. Next, you can see Byzantine-era sites like Paphos Castle, the catacombs of Agia Solomoni Church, and the Agia Paraskevi church with its five decorative domes.
  • See Nicosia, the capital and largest city of Cyprus. Today, it is a divided city, half being controlled by the unrecognised Turkish state of North Cyprus. The main sites to see include: the Cyprus Museum, the Cyprus Classic Motorcycle Museum, the Famagusta Gate in the old city walls, and the Notre Dame de Tyre monastery and church.
  • Visit the Kykkos Monastery near the town of Pedoulas and up in the Troodos Mountains. It is among the most famous of all monasteries on the island. It dates from the 11th Century, when it was established by a Byzantine Emperor. Cyprus’ first modern president, who was first a monk and an archbishop, visited the grounds often. His remains are buried just a couple miles from the monastery, and his tomb is itself a major tourist attraction.

Orthodox Pentecost is largely a church event in Cyprus, but there are also a few more “public” events such as the festival in Larnaka. And there are many religious landmarks and relics that one can explore at this very appropriate time of year.