Share article:
Share article:

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

Sainte Rolende of Gerpinnes march in Charleroi, a centuries-old tradition to mark Whit Monday. Credit: Wallonia Tourism Office

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 many European countries, like 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 49 days after Easter Sunday.

“Pentecost is one of the three big celebrations in the Church’s calendar,” Johannes Reitze-Landau, pastor at the All Lutheran Church of Brussels said.

“We commemorate that the Holy Spirit established the Church — so it’s the birthday of the Church.”

In his small congregation, churchgoers are mostly expatriates who flock there because services are held in English.

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, like Belgium, where only some services, shops and offices are open 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 symbolized 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.

The Brussels Times

Latest news

Increase in number of people ‘asking King for mercy’ through royal pardons
More and more people living in Belgium have been seeking royal pardons, mainly for fines, largely as a result of it now being possible to send in ...
England now accepting cheaper Covid tests from fully vaccinated travellers
Fully vaccinated travellers who enter England from non-red countries will only be required to book a lateral flow test to take following their ...
Re-introducing face masks indoors considered as Covid-19 situation worsens
Belgium's council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the worsening epidemiological situation, and reintroducing face ...
Federal museums to receive €2.9 million booster shot
Federal museums will receive an additional €2.9 million in support from the government for the fiscal year 2021, of which the first payouts will be ...
European Parliament emphasises healthy food and animal welfare in EU Farm to Fork Strategy
The European Parliament adopted this week a resolution on the EU Farm to Fork Strategy calling for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food ...
Threats of strike action could affect Brussels’ STIB network from Monday
Brussels public transport operator STIB's trams, buses and metros could be affected from Monday 25 October onwards as the union representing the ...
Number of international adoptions in Belgium continues to drop
The number of regulated international adoptions authorised by Belgium further dropped in 2020, continuing an ongoing decreasing trend. Last ...
Disaster drill with emergency services held at Brussels Airport
Around 300 people took part in a disaster drill held was organised on Saturday by Brussels Airport in collaboration with external emergency services ...
Austria presents bill to legalise euthanasia
Austria’s government on Saturday presented its proposals for legalising assisted suicide, in response to a Constitutional Court ruling that the ...
Brussels’ Museum Night Fever draws in some 12,000 visitors
Some 12,000 participants took part in the 14th edition of Museum Night Fever in Brussels, with the 29 participating museums filled to the maximum ...
Relaunch of 10,000 steps campaign to get Flemish people moving
The Flemish government is breathing new life into its 10,000 steps campaign to get people in the region moving after a recent survey found that a ...
‘No scientific basis’ for giving everyone third dose, vaccine expert says
The head of Belgium's Vaccination Taskforce has argued that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the Flemish government's decision to ...