Pentecost is a major Christian observance in Saint Helena 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 a Whit Monday public holiday each year.
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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.
Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha form a unified overseas possession of the UK. And Pentecost Sunday and Pentecost Monday are observed in the UK too – though neither are official public holidays there.
In Saint Helena, the majority of the residents are of English descent and Anglican in faith, so attending an Anglican church service on Whit Sunday is traditional.
The long weekend created by Whit Monday is a great chance for locals and travellers to get out of the capital city of Jamestown or other small villages and climb the 699 natural rocky steps of “Jacob’s Ladder”, ascend Diana’s Peak, or go on nature hikes. It’s also a good day to explore local culture and history by visiting Napoleon’s empty tomb or the prison where he was long held in exile.