Pentecost is a major Christian observance in Iceland that takes place on the fiftieth day of Easter – 49 days after Easter Sunday. It is also known as Whit Sunday, and is celebrated with Whit Sunday and Whit Monday public holidays each year.
|2019||9 Jun||Sun||Whit Sunday|
|10 Jun||Mon||Whit Monday|
|2020||31 May||Sun||Whit Sunday|
|1 Jun||Mon||Whit Monday|
Pentecost is the final celebration of the seven-week Easter period. According to Christian belief, Pentecost commemorates the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and disciples of Jesus, giving them the ability to speak in different languages to share the good news about Jesus.
The name “Whit” Sunday and Monday comes from the white clothes traditionally worn by those being baptised on this popular day for baptisms. In Icelandic, Whit Sunday is known as hvitasunna.
Many times, kids who attend church in Iceland will be “confirmed” at age 14, on hvitasunna. Sometimes, however, this happens on Easter Sunday instead. Some may also be baptised on this day and may even wear the traditional white garments from which Whit Sunday gets its name. And the young women of Iceland traditionally appear in church wearing white dresses on Pentecost regardless of whether they are being confirmed or baptised that day or not.
Since Whit Monday is also a day off in Iceland, this gives families a chance to enjoy the warmer spring weather of May or June after having made it through another frosty Icelandic winter.