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Pentecost 2017 and 2018

Pentecost Monday is a public holiday in Hungary, and as in other lands, the previous Sunday is also observed with special church services. The date of the holiday varies, but it is always 50 days after Easter Sunday, counting inclusively, meaning the first and last days are included. Pentecost will usually come sometime in either in May or June.

20175 JunMonWhit Monday
201821 MayMonWhit Monday

Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the gathered disciples in Jerusalem, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Acts. It was then that the Apostles began to preach to a multi-lingual crowd and were heard be each listener in his own native tongue. 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 and is still building.

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.

Many businesses will be closed for Pentecost, but a few will still be open to cater to tourists, and transportation will still run, if on a shortened schedule.

If in Hungary for Pentecost, here are a few ideas on what to do while in the country:

  • Attend mass at Esztergom Basilica, the largest Catholic church building in the land. The town of Esztergom lies about 29 miles north from Budapest. The basilica has three teal-blue domes, a central rotunda, and is fronted with tall, white pillars. Inside, echoes last for nine seconds straight. The basilica contains a 16th Century chapel made of red marble and built by Italian Renaissance men. It also has the tombs of past archbishops of Hungary and the largest single-canvas painting on the planet, which is an altar piece depicting the assumption of Mary.
  • Attend services at the Reformed Great Church in the town of Debrecen, Hungary’s second-largest city. It lies downtown between Kossuth and Kalvin Squares and is the largest Protestant church building in the country. It has a massive bell, two large towers, a yellow facade with tall pillars, and both a modern, electronic organ and a classical organ.
  • Visit any of the local communities that carry on the tradition of “majusfa.” This is the planting of a community tree, from which most of the branches are taken once it is of adequate size. The branches are used to decorate houses and fences and, sometimes, to indicate where a single maiden lives. Traditional dancing and celebrations will also be held after the branches have been put to good use.

If in Hungary for Pentecost, you will find the spring weather is very pleasant and that there are events to attend both in and out of church.