Polish Language Blog

Zielone Świątki – Whit Sunday/Pentecost Posted by on May 17, 2011 in Culture

Depending on the date of Easter, this church holiday in remembrance of the Descent of the Holy  Spirit (Zesłanie Ducha Świętego) is celebrated on the seventh Sunday and Monday after Easter, between May 10th and June 13th. It closes the Easter season.

In many parts of the world, Pentecost has become a traditional day for baptisms to take place. On this day, many people enjoy family gatherings, picnics, or outings to the country. Pentecost is called “the Green Holiday” in Poland. It is a time when people decorate their houses with green branches to bring blessings on the home and the people living in it. Whitsunday is linked to pagan spring rites, such as the English custom of Morris dancing and the drinking of “Whitsun ale”.

As recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, it was on the 50th day after Easter that the apostles were praying together and the Holy Spirit descended on them. They received the “gift of tongues” – the ability to speak in other languages – and immediately began to preach about Jesus Christ to Jewish people from all over the world who flocked to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot.

Christian Pentecost became not only a commemoration of the Holy Spirit’s visit but also marks the birth of the Christian Church. Although it is not certain when Pentecost began to be observed by Christians, it may have been early as the first century. Whitsuntide, also referred to as Whitsun in modern times, is the period beginning with the Saturday before Whitsunday and ending the following Saturday.

The symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit and include flames, wind, the breath of God and a dove.

Some churches lower a carved dove into the congregation and call this “swinging the Holy Ghost”. Cattle are decorated and an overdressed person is said to be “dressed like a Whitsun ox”. A holdover pagan game is called “hunting the green man”, a young man dressed in leaves and moss hides, and children hunt him.


Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)



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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


  1. Catherine Czerkawska:

    Many thanks for such a lovely informative blog!
    I’ve written about the ‘green holy days’ of Whitsun in my new Polish historical novel,The Amber Heart, which is currently with my literary agent, while I keep my fingers crossed! My dear late father was Polish, I lived and worked in Poland for s year, back in the late seventies, and still feel very Polish. It’s lovely to read again about the things he once talked about.

  2. Czeslaw Ledwos:

    Thank you very much. I didn’t realise Penticost Sunday was so important to Poles.

    • Czeslaw Ledwos:

      @Czeslaw Ledwos What would be a suitable Polish message to send someone on Penticost Sunday?