Fun with history! Boy can those British forebears complicate the $#%@ out of such a simple Christian festival! A blessed and happy Pentecost to all, the Christian festival of the Holy Spirit lighting upon those original disciples (plus one) to unleash nascent Christian faith from Jerusalem’s center to the entire Roman Empire and known world. So easy, clear and clean huh?! And to think, as Peter had to address to the first congregation ever to hear a Christian sermon, no one had started drinking yet even! It wasn’t 5:00 somewhere yet (BOO-Yah on the Jimmy Buffett reference!) because it was only 9 AM in the morning!
Enter the Celts/Normans/English/Brits! This entire day and week has shadowy ligaments to Beltane, the druidic celebration of summer’s return. Thus the original title of the day in English Christianity, Whitsun or Whitsunday. White Sunday! (The Druids loved white because nothing back then stayed white very long.) The ladies wore (thin) white dresses. They took the week off from harvesting to celebrate their first fruits of the early summer harvest. (One wonders if William Shakespeare would have had anything at all to write about in Midsummer Night’s Dream…summer solstice about one month from now…if the new female fashions hadn’t debuted about now, in weather warm enough for women not to freeze to death!) The week following became Whitsuntide, one of a few times peasants could actually stop working. Later, the ancient name became confused with the old English term for wisdom or deep insight, wit, thus denoting the even more ancient connection between this day and the Holy Spirit’s coming.
By whatever name and in whatever color, today is a festival to the Holy Spirit of the living God! The Nicene Creed notes this Spirit is the Lord and Giver of Life, who spoke of old from the prophets and speaks today through us! Resurrection and Ascension and the Spirit cohere in a divine rendezvous between Heaven and Earth, and we are the crossroads! Happy Pentecost! Happy Whitsun! Wear white! Speak in many languages! Accept the Paraclete! Receive the Holy Spirit! Plant your flowers! Don’t work so hard this week! Watch out for Druidic priests wanting to invite you to a special outdoor party! Bonus follows!