Orthodox Pentecost is a national holiday in Cyprus and is also observed by the more than 250 million Orthodox believers around the world. Aside from Easter, Pentecost is the highest feast on the Orthodox calendar.
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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. 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.
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.
Orthodox Pentecost is largely a church event in Cyprus, but there are also a few more “public” events such as the festival in Larnaka.