What is Whit Monday and how is it celebrated in Belgium?

What is Whit Monday and how is it celebrated in Belgium?
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Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday is the holiday held the day after Pentecost, a religious holiday of the Christian faith celebrated by devotees the world over, and marked by a public bank holiday in Belgium.

The holiday falls the day after Pentecost Sunday, which commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles after the death of Jesus, leading to the first sermon and marking the birth of the Christian Church.

The two days of Pentecost change each year, as Pentecost Sunday is set on the 50th day after Easter Sunday.

Many Christians of the Catholic, Protestant and Lutheran faiths celebrate on Sunday by attending special services at their churches, during which sermons focus on the theme of the Holy Spirit and which usually include a baptism ceremony.

Whit Monday is a bank holiday in countries of the Christian tradition, including Belgium where most public services, shops and offices are closed during the day.

Near Charleroi, Whit Monday usually sees a large procession march through the town of Gerpinnes in a centuries-old tradition to mark the public holiday. Dressed in Napoleonic costumes, devotees taking part in the yearly march gather in the central church and then walk nearly 40 km around town in honour of Sainte Rolende de Gerpinnes.

In Western Christian tradition, the period of Pentecost is symbolised by the colour red, and pastors and church officials don robes and decorate church altars with the colour. "It is during the Pentecost holidays that the Apostles, and all Christians thereafter, will reap the fruits of Easter," a statement by the Catholic Church of Belgium explains.

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