May 15 is Pentecost, is the fourth of the four main festivals of the Christian Year (the others being Christmas, Epiphany, and Easter). Pentecost was originally a Jewish festival, also called the “Festival of Weeks”, in which people offered to God the “first fruits” of their wheat harvest. “Pentecost” is actually a Greek word meaning “fiftieth”, since the Festival of Weeks was held on the 50th day after Passover. It was a festival for which all Jewish men were expected to travel to the temple in Jerusalem.

Pentecost is significant for Christians because it was on the Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection that the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus’ followers, as described in Acts 2.1-41. For us, Pentecost is the festival of the giving of the Holy Spirit; a commemoration of the day when the followers of Jesus were equipped to carry on his ministry, and when the church came of age. This was the first time that the Holy Spirit had been given to the whole community of God’s people, rather than just to select individuals.

In the Christian calendar, Pentecost is the 50th and final day of the Easter season. The symbolic color for Pentecost is red, signifying the “tongues of fire” which appeared to the followers of Jesus when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 2.3).