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Public Holidays In Cyprus - Pentecost

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Information on the Pentecost religious festival in Cyprus

Greek Orthodox Icon                  Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], "the fiftieth [day]") is the Greek name for the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This feast is still celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot.

Later, in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, (120 in all) as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31. For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians today as the "Birthday of the Church."

In the Eastern church, Pentecost can also refer to the whole fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the Pentecostarion. The feast is also called Whit Sunday, or Whitsun, especially in England, where the following MIonday was traditionally a public holiday. Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks (50 days) after Easter Sunday, hence its name. Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday.

The Pentecostal movement of Christianity derives its name from the New Testament event.

Old Testament

Pentecost is the old Greek and Latin name for the Jewish harvest festival, or Festival of Weeks (Hebrew חג השבועות Hag haShavuot or Shevuot, literally "Festival of Weeks"), which can be found in the Hebrew Bible, Shavuot is called the Festival of Weeks (Hebrew: חג השבועות, chag ha-Shavuot, Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:10 ); Festival of Reaping (Hebrew: חג הקציר, chag ha-Katsir, Exodus 23:16 ), and Day of the First Fruits (Hebrew יום הביכורים, Yom ha-Bikkurim, Numbers 28:26 ).

New Testament

The biblical narrative of Pentecost, where the 11 Disciples of Christ (Acts 1:13, 26), along with about 109 other individuals (Acts 1:15), including many women, among whom was Mary the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14), received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room, is given in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. As recounted in Acts 2:1–6:

“ And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.”

While those on whom the Spirit had descended were speaking in many languages, the Apostle Peter stood up with the eleven and proclaimed to the crowd that this event was the fulfillment of the prophecy ("I will pour out my spirit") In Acts 2:17, it reads: "'And in the last days,' God says, 'I will pour out my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams." Acts 2:41 then reports: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."

Peter stated that this event was the beginning of a continual outpouring that would be available to all believers from that point on, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Location of the first Pentecost

Traditional interpretation holds that the Descent of the Holy Spirit took place in the Upper Room, or Cenacle, while celebrating the day of Pentecost (Shavuot). The Upper Room was first mentioned in Luke 22:12-13 ( "And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover."). This Upper Room was to be the location of the Last Supper and the institution of Holy Communion. The next mention of an Upper Room is in Acts 1:13-14, the continuation of the Luke narrative, authored by the same biblical writer. Here the disciples and women wait and they gave themselves up to constant prayer:

"And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." Then, in Acts 2:1–2, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.", "They" refers to the aforementioned disciples, though some think it includes the women. The "place" referring to the same Upper Room where these persons had "continued with one accord in prayer and supplication".

Alternative interpretations suggest that "the house" mentioned was in fact the House of God, Herod's Temple. There were Judeans from all over the world in the Temple proper. These people saw and heard the people whom received the gift of spiritual birth of holy spirit. The location the Upper Room did not allow women. Therefore, The Temple proper among all the people present is the location of the out pouring of holy spirit. Acts Chapter 2.

Eastern churches

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Pentecost is one of the Orthodox Great Feasts and is considered to be the highest ranking Great Feast of the Lord, second in rank only to Easter/Resurrection Sunday/Passover. The service is celebrated with an All-night Vigil on the eve of the feast day, and the Divine Liturgy on the day of the feast itself. Orthodox temples are often decorated with greenery and flowers on this feast day, and the celebration is intentionally similar to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Mosaic Law.

The feast itself lasts three days. The first day is known as "Trinity Sunday"; the second day is known as "Spirit Monday" (or "Monday of the Holy Spirit"); and the third day, Tuesday, is called the "Third Day of the Trinity".." The Afterfeast of Pentecost lasts for one week, during which fasting is not permitted, even on Wednesday and Friday. In the Orthodox Tradition, the liturgical colour used at Pentecost is green, and the clergy and faithful carry flowers and green branches in their hands during the services.

An extraordinary service called the Kneeling Prayer, is observed on the night of Pentecost. This is a Vespers service to which are added three sets of long poetical prayers, the composition of Saint Basil the Great, during which everyone makes a full prostration, touching their foreheads to the floor (prostrations in church having been forbidden from the day of Pascha (Easter) up to this point).

All of the remaining days of the ecclesiastical year, until the preparation for the next Great Lent are named for the day after Pentecost on which they occur (for example, the 13th Tuesday After Pentecost).

The Second Monday after Pentecost is the beginning of the Apostles' Fast (which continues until the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29). Theologically, Orthodox do not consider Pentecost to be the "birthday" of the Church; they see the Church as having existed before the creation of the world (cf. The Shepherd of Hermas)

The Orthodox icon of the feast depicts the Twelve Apostles seated in a semicircle (sometimes the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) is shown sitting in the center of them). At the top of the icon, the Holy Spirit, in the form of tongues of fire, is descending upon them. At the bottom is an allegorical figure, called Kosmos, which symbolizes the world. Although Kosmos is crowned with earthly glory he sits in the darkness caused by the ignorance of God. He is holding a towel on which have been placed 12 scrolls, representing the teaching of the Twelve Apostles.

In the ancient Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Pentecost is one of the seven Major "Lord's Feasts". It is celebrated at the time of ninth hour (3:00pm) on the Sunday of Pentecost by a special three-segment prayer known as the "Office of Genuflection (Kneeling Prayer)". This feast is followed with the "Apostles Fast" which has a fixed end date on the fifth of the Coptic month of Epip [which currently falls on July 12, which is equivalent to June 29, due to the current 13-day Julian-Gregorian calendar offset]. The fifth of Epip is the commemoration of the Martyrdom of St. Peter and Paul. The ninth hour is the hour at which the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles according to the book of Acts Chapter 2. Source Wikipedia

Last Updated 19 June 2016

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