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Netherlands’ Pentecostal Celebration: Pentecost Sunday

What is Pentecost Sunday in the Netherlands?

Each year, the Netherlands observes the Pentecostal celebration to remember the Covenant between God and Israel, as well as the descension of the Holy Spirit onto Christians. The Day of Pentecost is celebrated both as a religious holiday and as an opportunity to relax and enjoy life.

In learning about the Dutch traditions for the Feast of Pentecost, you’ll see how Dutch culture intertwines with a holiday celebrated in various parts of the world. In turn, you’ll better absorb the Dutch way of life and the Netherlands’ culture, especially regarding religion. Understanding culture is one of the most essential steps in mastering any target language, and at DutchPod101.com, we hope to make this learning endeavor both fun and insightful!

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1. What is Pentecost?

So, what is the Day of Pentecost?

Many people in the Netherlands view Pentecost as just a day off. For the younger generation especially, this is all Pentecost means. But we all know there’s way more to the story of Pentecost.

It so happens that Pentecost derives from the Jewish Feast of Weeks, also known as Shavuot. Whereas Pentecost was formerly just a feast of thanks for bringing in a good harvest, Pentecost received a new meaning after the second century AD, namely as the day we commemorate the Covenant between God and Israel.

2. Day of Pentecost: When is Pentecost?

Enjoying the Spring

The date of Pentecost varies from year to year in correspondence with Easter. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: June 9
  • 2020: May 31
  • 2021: May 23
  • 2022: June 5
  • 2023: May 28
  • 2024: May 19
  • 2025: June 8
  • 2026: May 24
  • 2027: May 16
  • 2028: June 4

3. Reading Practice: Pentecost Celebrations in the Netherlands

Holding a Religious Service

How do the Dutch celebrate Pentecost? Read the Dutch text below to find out (and find the English translation directly below it).

Pinksteren wordt gekenmerkt door veel openlucht muziekfestivals, vakanties en andere outdoor activiteiten.

Pinkpop is een jaarlijks driedaags popfestival in Landgraaf, dat in het weekeinde van Pinksteren plaatsvindt. Het festival duurt drie dagen en trekt per dag ongeveer 60.000 mensen. Pinkpop is één van de langstlopende jaarlijks terugkerende popfestivalen ter wereld. In principe wordt het evenement altijd met Pinksteren gehouden, maar valt Pinksteren vroeg in het jaar dan wordt het in een ander weekend gevierd dat in of dichter bij de maand juni ligt. Rond de maand juni zijn de meeste bands op tour door Europa, wegens de vele festivallen hier. Veel bezoekers dragen tijdens het festival het iconische roze Pinkpop-petje.

In Nederland maken veel mensen er een punt van om naar de kerk te gaan op Pinksterdag, zelfs als ze anders niet veel naar de kerk gaan. Het is ook een dag om te genieten van het buitenleven met fietsen of wandelen. Omdat deze feestdag in de lente valt, wordt het doorgaans door de mensen gebruikt om van het frisse lenteweer te genieten.

Er worden ook nog steeds enkele tradities beoefend doorheen heel Nederland. In sommige gebieden, kiezen de ongetrouwde mannen van een stad een Pinksterbruid, een ongehuwd meisje dat ook in die stad woont. De bewoners versieren haar met bloemen en plaatsen een kroon op haar hoofd. Dan leidt ze een processie door de stad waarmee een tijd aanbreekt waarop van oudsher koppels werden gevormd. Veel Nederlandse paren komen in deze tijd samen, dus het is een populaire tijd van het jaar voor verlovingen of het begin van een relatie.

Wist u dat de steden Amsterdam, Utrecht en Den Haag behoren tot de drie meest populaire steden om te gaan winkelen op een vrije dag? Naast het eindeloze aanbod van winkels, uitgaansgelegenheden, restaurants en musea staat Den Haag ook bekend om zijn stranden.

Whit Sunday is marked by a great deal of outdoor music festivals, vacations, and other outdoor activities.

Pinkpop is an annual, three-day pop music festival in Landgraaf that takes place during the Pentecost weekend. The festival runs for three days and attracts about 60,000 people a day. Pinkpop is one of the longest running annual pop festivals in the world. The event is always held during Pentecost in theory, but if Pentecost falls early in the year, it is celebrated on a different weekend where the dates are in or come closer to the month of June. Around the month of June, most bands are on tour throughout Europe, given the many festivals here. Many attendees wear the iconic pink Pinkpop hats during the festival.

In the Netherlands, many people make a point of attending church on Whit Sunday, even if they do not go to church most of the time. It is also a day to enjoy the great outdoors by riding bikes or walking. Since this holiday falls during the spring, it is typically marked by people enjoying the fresh, spring weather.

There are also some traditions still practiced throughout the Netherlands. In some areas, the single men of a town select a Pentecost bride, a single girl who also lives in the town. Townspeople decorate her with flowers and place a crown on the head. She leads a procession through the town, which then starts a time during which couples were traditionally formed. Many Dutch couples get together during this time, so it is a popular time of year for engagements or the beginning of a dating relationship.

Did you know that Amsterdam, Utrecht and the Hague are among the three most popular cities for going shopping on a day off? In addition to the endless supply of stores, nightlife, restaurants and museums, the Hague and Amsterdam are also known for their beaches.

4. What Does Pentecost Mean?

Do you know what the Greek word Pentecoste means in Dutch?

Pentecost is a cognate that derives from the Greek word Pentēkostē, which signifies the number fifty. This number refers to the day when Pentecost is celebrated.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Pentecost in the Netherlands

Gates of Heaven

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Pentecost in the Netherlands!

  • Kermis — “Fair”
  • Geboorte — “Birth”
  • Muziek — “Music”
  • Doop — “Christening”
    • Christening is the giving of another (Christian) name to someone after baptism, usually a baby.
  • Hemel — “Heaven”
  • Katholieke Kerk — “Catholic Church”
  • Voorjaarsfeest — “Spring-celebration”
  • Pinkstergemeente — “Pentecostal congregation”
  • Heilige Geest — “Holy Spirit”
  • Pinksteren — “Pentecost”
  • Kerkdienst — “Religious service”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our Dutch Pentecost vocabulary list. Here, each word is accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

Does your country celebrate Pentecost too? If so, what kind of traditions and celebrations do you have? Let us know in the comments!

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