Whit Monday Traditions Around the World

Two years ago, when I was in Germany for IMEX Frankfurt, I took the train and re-traced my steps to Bacharach. I have previously told the story about missing my stop and getting off at Oberwesel. A passenger who got off the train at that stop offered to accompany back to Bacharach. "It's a public holiday, Pfingstmontag (Pentecost) and my schedule was clear." He had restored the Posthof Bacharach and he gave me a full tour of the town for the Cvent Event Blog post Incentive Destinations: Bacharach, Germany An Ancient Hidden Gem.

What is Whit Monday?

Until that day in Germany, I didn't realize that, 50 days after Easter, Whit Monday is a public holiday and the official end of the Easter season in many countries.

Pentecost is also known as Whit Sunday or Whitsun as it was a popular day for baptisms and the garments worn were white. Whit Monday is observed in France (Lundi de Pentecote), Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Romania, and many parts of Switzerland. It is also a public holiday in some parts of the Caribbean including Antigua, Barbados,Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, and The Bahamas. In Italy, it is no longer a national holiday but it is an official holiday in Trentino-Alto Adige and South Tyrol, 2 autonomous areas of Italy.

How is Whit Monday Celebrated?

Hungary Mounted Games - Pentecost

Different local traditions have evolved around the world. Whit Monday is a popular day for family picnics in the parts of the English-speaking Caribbean where it is celebrated. In Finland and Estonia, eggs are painted on Whit Monday instead at Easter.

In Germany, areas are decorated with red flowers to signify the fire of the Holy Spirit. In Australia, Whit Monday is not a public holiday but red and white flowers decorate churches and candles are lit in churches and at home.

In Hungary, there are skill testing games on horseback. There are Whit Monday parades and walks in many countries. For example, in the United Kingdom where Whit Monday was a public holiday until 1967, there are still processions of children in some areas. (YouTube has videos of Whit Monday processions dating back to the 1920s.) In parts of Bavaria, there is a 600 year tradition of processions on horseback.

On a lighter note, there is even a video of The Beatles singing Whit Monday greetings. In some parts of England, cheese rolling competitions take place on Whit Monday.

Photo Credit: Colin Gregory, Ken Owen

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