Pentecost is a holiday to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples in Jerusalem, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Acts.
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The coming of the Spirit is considered by many to mark the “birthday of the Church,” and special services at this time of year focus on the Holy Spirit and His ministry in and through the Church that Jesus built.
Besides the Christian elements of the holiday, Pentecost is also a time to celebrate the arrival of spring weather in Hungary. And there are also certain carry-over traditions that date from pagan times.
Some of the more prominent Hungarian Pentecost traditions include:
- The naming of a “Pentecost King,” who achieves this title by prevailing in a series of games. The king gets to attend virtually all weddings and parties throughout the coming year and to drink free of charge at the local pubs.
- Flowers and green branches are put around the edges of windows and in fences, often the Jasmine or the Pentecost rose, in order to prevent getting struck by a bolt of lightening.
- Young men sometimes put a Pentecost rose in the window of a young lady, and young girls may give a wreath they have made to a young man. Some suitors also give a lady a basket full of scones, along with some wine, and hope to receive a basket in return. There may also be balls held on Pentecost to facilitate the courting.