Whit Monday

What is Whit Monday?

Pentecost Monday, also known as Monday of the Holy Spirit, and most commonly as Whit Monday, is a holiday that is celebrated the day after Pentecost, a moveable feast that is determined by the date of Easter. Whit Monday specifically represents the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, also marking the resumption of Ordinary Time after Easter.

The name “Whit Monday” actually comes from the English name for one of the three baptismal seasons in Pentecost, being “Whitsunday”. The origin of “Whitsunday” itself is generally believed to come from the white garments that used to be worn by those newly baptised on this feast.

When is Whit Monday?

The day that Whit Monday happens on is always determined by when Pentecost is. Pentecost, naturally, is always on a Sunday, and happens on either the 49th or 50th day after Easter Sunday. The reason that Easter, along with its many related celebrations, is never on a fixed date is because it is actually calculated using a lunisolar calendar, which is similar to the Hebrew calendar. While much confusion has come from this throughout the course of human history, the date has generally become whenever the first Sunday is after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after the 21st of March.

As Pentecost is happening on the 19th of May in 2024, Whit Monday is therefore going to be celebrated on Monday the 20th of May.

History of Whit Monday

Whit Monday is, as mentioned earlier, related to the Easter holiday, which itself is a Christian celebration that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus. It is believed that Jesus was resurrected on the third day after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary in around 30 AD. There are many different holidays related to Easter that happen throughout the course of Easter time, each commemorating specific aspects of the story of Jesus’ resurrection.

Whit Monday itself is also closely associated with Pentecost, that happens the Sunday beforehand. Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, mother of Jesus, as well as the Apostles of Jesus, while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks. This makes Pentecost important for many different denominations of the Church during the Easter holiday, as well as Whit Monday by extension.

Whit Monday has more of a general association with Mary than Pentecost does, and is used more as a memorial for her and the resumption of Ordinary Time after the Easter period.

How is Whit Monday Celebrated?

Whit Monday’s close ties with Pentecost mean that most of the celebrations and customs happen on that day instead. Want to help your class learn some key facts about Pentecost? Try these Differentiated Fact Files.

Whit Monday is usually reserved for use as a public holiday in many countries across the world, on multiple continents. In many of these countries, Whit Monday is even known as the second day of Pentecost, or “the second Whitsun”.

Despite Whit Monday being a civil holiday in many countries, it was not a Catholic religious holiday any more than the other weekdays that follow Pentecost Sunday until quite recently. It wasn’t until the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar that this was the case. Before that, they were part of the octave of Pentecost, which was added in the 7th century.