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What Really Happened on Pentecost? Traditions and Customs on Pentecost Day

Not only in age but also necessary, the feast of Pentecost comes soon after Easter. The main question remains: What happened on Pentecost? During the vigil on the eve, the baptism of the catechumens used to take place. As at Easter, kneeling and fasting were forbidden on all the days of Pentecost; circus and gymnasium games, and pagan theatrical performances, were banned.

Truly worthy of mention is what happened on the day of Pentecost, where the holy spirit of God descended upon the apostles and disciples whom Jesus left behind on earth. This miraculous event occurred in the year 0033 AD, only ten days after the Ascension of the Lord.

What Happened on Pentecost? On the day of Pentecost, houses were decorated with flowers and green branches, especially walnut or lime, as is done to this day, a custom inherited from the Jews, where Pentecost was also the feast of the first fruits and flowers. 

Why is Pentecost so important?

The Feast of the Laying on of the Holy Spirit, along with Easter and Sunday, is one of the oldest Christian feasts. In ancient times, the joy of the feast was enhanced by catechumens receiving baptism on this day in a solemn and festive setting. What Happened on Pentecost, and why is it important?

The Feast of Pentecost is so essential because biblical scholars demonstrate that the Holy Spirit descended to earth on that holy day. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit or Pentecost commemorates and updates God’s sending of the Holy Spirit each year upon the Apostles of the Saviour gathered in Jerusalem.

Read also: What is Corpus Christi, and why is it celebrated?


The pouring out of the Holy Spirit marks the foundation of the Church by God sending the Holy Spirit into the world to empower the Holy Apostles to proclaim the Gospel. The Church becomes a reality seen through the descent of the Holy Spirit, and to be a Christian is to have the Holy Spirit inside yourself.

What happened on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2?

The Holy Spirit does not collect people, does not make them uniform, but cultivates the identity of each human person, distinct from other persons, enlightening, enriching, and making them communicate with other persons in the love of the Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is not a leveler of personal or ethnic identities, but he makes each person grow spiritually, each people. What Happened on Pentecost?

According to Acts 2 of the Bible, on the day of Pentecost, God sent His Spirit of Truth, that is, the Holy Spirit, to anoint the apostles and 70 other disciples, and as soon as they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples spoke of the beautiful works of God, and the Jews and proselytes who were in Jerusalem heard each one in his language what the apostles preached; they heard in the language in which they were born, says the book of Acts in the second chapter.

The Holy Spirit does not descend upon the Apostles in the form of a bed of fire, like a covering over them that would have made them uniform, but in the form of tongues, like fire over the head of each disciple who would become an Apostle.

Read also: What Was the Transfiguration of Jesus?

What other name can we call Pentecost?

Because Pentecost is one of the important Jewish feasts, along with Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews celebrated their chosen days with pilgrimages to the Temple. Religious songs and offerings, in gratitude to Elohim for all the favors they had received from Him. Every feast became obligatory for every Jew from 13 when he was considered fit to keep the Mosaic commandments. What happened on Pentecost, and what other name can we call Pentecost?

According to Jewish and biblical-historical researchers, Pentecost has a few other names, and they are:

  • Whitsunday
  • The Day of the Holy Spirit
  • The Day of Jele

At the end of the Holy Mass on the Feast of the Laying on of the Holy Spirit, Vespers of Pentecost is celebrated, and the leaves of the walnut and lime trees are blessed – a symbol of the tongues of fire that stood over the heads of the Holy Apostles.

Key Verse related to The Holy Spirit from Pentecost

“And I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”

John 1:33 (NIV)


Read also: Why do St. Peter and Paul share a feast day?

Why did the Holy Spirit descend on Pentecost?

The Jewish Pentecost, recalling the reception of the Old Law, prefigured the Christian Pentecost, which celebrates the Laying on of the Holy Spirit, the reception of the New Law, written not on tablets of stone (as on Sinai), but tablets of the flesh of the heart. What Happened on Pentecost, and why did the Holy Spirit descend on Pentecost?

The descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost took place because Jesus promised that ten days after His ascension, He would send the Holy Spirit as a helper and intercessor for His followers. The first Christians also received the Holy Spirit 50 days after Easter while in Jerusalem.

Pentecost is also that annual Jewish feast commemorating Moses’ reception of the Law on Mount Sinai three months after the chosen people came out of Egyptian bondage. Because of the reception of the tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai at this time, after the selected people went out of Egypt, it is also called “The time of the reception of our teaching.”

Traditions and customs of Pentecost

  • Pentecost is linked to other traditions and customs, which differ from region to region. In some areas, people decorate their homes and households with branches of lime, walnut, poplar, or oak to ward off evil and disease.
  • Lime branches have a special symbolism in this holiday: it is believed that the lime tree keeps households from hail or evil spirits of fairies. The monks bring them from the forests, after which they are consecrated in church, and the faithful take them home and put them on icons.
  • In some areas, women make incantations to ward off the Isle, and doors are anointed with garlic because it is believed that this will keep the house safe from evil and bad luck for the rest of the year.
  • Evil spirits are also chased away with noisy rituals and the snapping of lime branches.

Read also: All Saints’ Day. What Is The History And Meaning Of This Feast?

Where did the Apostles go after Pentecost?

After the resurrection, the disciples returned to Galilee, “where Jesus had commanded them to go” (Matthew 28:16). Along with the eleven, there were more than five hundred brothers, including Bartholomew. Through this authority, He entrusts His followers with a mission.

After the day of Pentecost, according to the account of Acts, the disciples went from Samaria to the ends of the earth to make disciples of all nations, for Jesus had given them the command. He used four verbs to describe this mission: ‘go,’ ‘make (disciples),’ ‘baptize,’ and ‘teach.’

And when the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. There came a sound from heaven, like a mighty rushing wind, filling the whole house where they were sitting. Also, there appeared to them tongues as of fire, and they sat on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

People’s beliefs on Pentecost

  • Legends say that the Jele, or Pentecost, are fantastic beings that roam the skies and can take people’s minds if they don’t observe the holiday. The Whitsundays, known by various names – mares, fairies, falcons, fairy empresses, bears – walk around dressed in white, and where they dance, remain burnt and unmoved.
  • It is said that the Whitsunday sometimes kidnaps a beautiful young man to play with, then sets him free, but he must not tell what he has seen. Otherwise, he may be punished.

Read also: What Does Maundy Thursday Mean and Why Celebrate it?

Why did Jesus tell the disciples to spread throughout the world?

Jesus called the 11 remaining disciples after the resurrection (without Judas, who died). They went to Galilee. When they saw him, the disciples worshipped him, but some doubted, the Bible tells us.

Jesus approached the apostles and asked the disciples to go out into the world among the Gentiles to:
– to make disciples of all nations,
– baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit,
– teach them to keep all his commandments.

Then Jesus makes a promise to the disciples, encouraging them that he will not leave them alone in all this work: ‘And behold, I am with you to the end of the age.’

Primary Takeaways

  • The coming of the Spirit involved three elements: sound, visible appearance, and experiencing a miracle. The sound from heaven filled the whole house like the whirling of a mighty wind. The wind is one of several fluid types that refer to the Holy Spirit (oil, fire, and water), revealing His sovereignty and unpredictable way of moving.
  • Although the baptism of the Spirit and the baptism of fire are mentioned in the same statement (Matt. 3:11, 12; Luke 3:16, 17), they constitute two separate and distinct events. The former is a baptism of blessing, the latter of judgment.
  • On the day of Pentecost, believers not only had the presence of the Spirit dwelling in them but were also filled with Him.

Read also: When Is Three Kings’ Day and How Is It Celebrated?


The Feast of Pentecost, embodying the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, took place fifty days after the Feast of the First Fruits, which symbolized the resurrection of Christ. On the occasion of these Pentecosts, the disciples were all in one mind, in one place.

Jesus’ command to the disciples still applies today. Today’s disciples of Jesus must also fulfill this commandment. If you are one of his disciples, you, too, can achieve this commandment. You can tell those around you about the Saviour and tell them about what Jesus is doing in your life as one of His children and friend. In this way, you are fulfilling the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus.

I appreciate your willingness to read our article written kindly for you! Next, you can play a trivia game about Pentecost. Take care of your heart, for all the springs of life flow from it.

Quizlet about The Pentecost Day

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Read also: 5 Ways to Humble Yourself according to the Bible


  • Edgar, D., Knight, D., & Costello, M. P. (1995). Pentecost (p. xx). London: Nick Hern Books.
  • Fitzmyer, J. A. (1984). The ascension of Christ and Pentecost. Theological Studies45(3), 409-440.
  • Kuyper, A. (2007). The work of the Holy Spirit. Cosimo, Inc.
  • OWEN’S, J. O. H. N. (2020). On the Holy Spirit. The Oxford Handbook of Reformed Theology, 266.
  • Smeaton, G. (2016). The doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Wipf and Stock Publishers.