Writing About Holiday: Whitsun Day’s Significance In Festive Celebrations

Whitsun Day: Unveiling the Lesser-Known Christian Celebration and its Roots in Pentecost

Throughout the cultures of the world, there is a vast number of holidays. To most Americans, when they hear the word “holiday,” they think of Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, and many more! However, there are a plethora of holidays that are not commonly known. One of which is Whitsun Day. Whitsun Day is a religious holiday widely celebrated among Christians. Although it is not widely known in mainstream society, it is still a very relevant holiday because of its historical significance, relationship to other popular holidays, and the spirit of family unity it brings.

The name is said to come from the following “Whitsun,” the day that became three of the baptismal seasons. The term “Whitsun Day” is now used in reference to the white apparel candidates wear. Another name for this day is ‘Pentecost”. Pentecost takes place every 50 days after Easter. That is, there is a different date every single year. It’s celebrated on this day because it is when the Holy Spirit first passed on the gift of tongues to a group of Jesus’s followers, also known as disciples. A disciple is a person particularly dedicated to following Jesus. The gift of “tongues” was a language that was given that they didn’t know of before. As the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, they were given various languages and were able to spread the word of Jesus among other people; they started preaching the Word of Jesus to Jews who had come to Jerusalem for the feast of Shavuot. Many people view this day as the birth of the modern Church.

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Holiday Traditions: Whitsun Day’s Ceremonies, Celebrations, and Comparisons with Other Christian Festivities

Within Christianity, the day is still popular for baptisms. These ceremonies consist of a teenager or adult confirming their faith and officially becoming a member of the Church and a follower of Jesus Christ. Participants usually wear white to match the symbol of a dove. The dove represents the “Holy Spirit that descended like a dove over Jesus when he was baptized; in other words, the dove is a symbol of peace. Folk traditions, such as cheese rolling and Morris dancing, also have long-standing associations with Whitsun Day. A Morris dance is an English Folk dance with music. It is based on synchronized stepping by a group of people. This day is also celebrated with family gatherings. Family gatherings usually include a feast. This day calls for a feast because the Book of Acts in the New Testament of the Bible tells the story of a gathering in Jerusalem not long after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, where 120 people, including his 12 Apostles, his brothers, and his mother. On that day, they were all gathered together to celebrate a feast day.

Whitsun Day is a public holiday in some places around the world, including countries in Europe. These places consist of Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, and Norway. However, it is not a federal holiday in Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. A federal holiday is a holiday confirmed by the federal government for a country. The next Whitsun Day is to occur on June 9, 2019.

This holiday can be compared and contrasted to Christmas and Easter. All of these holidays are considered to be religious because their origin is based on events that took place in history in the Bible. They also all represent Jesus Christ himself. Each holiday is a common day for families to reunite and spend some fun time together. Another commonality that they share is that there are no rules or set guidelines as to how they need to be celebrated; each is held among family customs.

Distinct Celebrations: Unraveling Whitsun Day Amidst the Shadows of Easter and Christmas

Although they have these similarities, they share differences as well. As discussed before, Pentecost, or Whitsun Day, is celebrated because the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the gift of speaking in a new language. With this gift, they were able to spread the word of Jesus to more people. However, this holiday is not as well known as Easter or Christmas. There are no songs dedicated to this holiday, nor is it a widely celebrated day. In contrast, Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In the New Testament of the Bible, the event is believed to have happened three days after Jesus was crucified or put to death by the Romans on a cross. In order to prepare for this day, some families may dye eggs, cook ahead of time, and put together baskets filled with items such as candy, toys, and money. On this day (April 21), it is common for people to attend Church and remind themselves of the significance this day holds. Another common custom is family gatherings. Here, there could be an Easter egg hunt, where eggs are hidden and filled with candy or a special prize. It’s also common to have a big feast. This is a public holiday in many places. Christmas is also a religious celebration, but it is acknowledging the birth of Jesus Christ. The story of the birth of Christ can be found in the Bible. In the book of Luke, chapter two, there are a lot of details given. Christians believe that Jesus was born on Earth to Mary and Joseph and that God sent Jesus to be the savior of the whole world. Jesus was also born in a barn in Bethlehem. Christmas was established to take place on December 25. However, we don’t know when he was actually born. Christmas is a very common holiday celebrated across the world. In fact, there are songs dedicated to this holiday. Some of these carols include: “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”- by Brenda Lee and “O Holy Night”- by John Sullivan Dwight. Although songs are one way to express your joy for this holiday, there are numerous more activities you can participate in. Some activities are decorating a Christmas tree, baking festive-themed goods, watching Christmas-themed films, creating and decorating gingerbread houses, hanging stockings above a fireplace, donating to charities, visiting local light shows, playing in the snow, wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, hanging mistletoe (if you have a significant other), decorating the out and inside of your home, giving and receiving gifts, and much more! Overall, Christmas is a very popular day, and it is a public holiday in many places.

All in all, Whitsun Day is a very modest religious celebration that’s not commonly known. It acknowledges the gift of a new language given to Christ’s believers. On this day, baptisms and family time is the main focus. Whitsun Day can also compare and contrast to Easter as well as Christmas. By observing Whitsun Day, it is obvious that it is, indeed, an important holiday because of its history, relation, and the feeling of family harmony it brings. 

References

  1. The Holy Bible, particularly the New Testament (specifically the Book of Acts for details on Pentecost).
  2. “The English Year: A Month-by-Month Guide to the Nation’s Customs and Festivals, from May Day to Mischief Night” by Steve Roud.
  3. “The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain” by Ronald Hutton.
  4. “Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical” by Frank C. Senn.
  5. “The Christian Year: A Guide for Worship and Preaching” by Constance M. Cherry.
  6. “Holidays and Holy Nights: Celebrating Twelve Seasonal Festivals of the Christian Year” by Christopher Hill.

How Are Seasons Used In Constructing This Novel? Symbolism In The Great Gatsby

Observing Disparity: The Symbolism of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg in the Valley of Ashes

Scott Fitzgerald, the author of The Great Gatsby, uses symbolism to show how random objects throughout the novel symbolize the reconstruction of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan’s relationship. Fitzgerald contains many forms of symbolism throughout the novel. For example, the Green Light, Gatsby’s Mansion, Valley of Ashes, etc. The many forms of symbolism are noticed, but if you dig even deeper, there are objects and other things used to symbolize other themes of the story. Symbolism helps to enhance the meaning of the novel.

In the Valley of Ashes, the billboard named “Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg” represents the differences between the lives of the rich and the poor. Nick first sees the Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg in chapter two when driving through the Valley of Ashes. “But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue, and gigantic-their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose”. The quote expresses the billboard as powerful and just how aggressive the eyes on the billboard must seem to the people who live in The Valley of Ashes. Fitzgerald also uses imagery to describe how the billboard, or the eyes, overlooks The Valley of Ashes.

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Seasons in ‘The Great Gatsby’: The Green Light, Mansion, and Echoes of Desire

There is a green light placed at the end of Daisy’s dock, and that green light is used to symbolize Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future, to have Daisy back. Near the end of chapter one, Nick Carraway, the narrator, sees Gatsby at the end of his dock, reaching towards the green light that is at the end of Daisy’s dock across the bay. This important part was described by Fitzgerald, “he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily, I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, a minute far away, that might have been the end of a dock”. The quote from the novel introduces the green light and suggests it as an important figure in the story, and presents Gatsby, as this is the first time he is in the story rather than just spoken about by other characters.

Jay Gatsby owns an extremely expensive mansion, but if you look closer, the house is an important symbol that ties into the reasoning of the roaring parties that Gatsby throws, and it also ties into the green light symbol. “It was a strange coincidence,’ I said. ‘But it wasn’t a coincidence at all.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would just be across the bay”. Gatsby bought his mansion not because he liked it but because he wanted to be close to Daisy. This also shows that all of the parties that Gatsby throws are happening in the hope that Daisy will arrive at one. Gatsby is lonely, and that is the reason behind many parties. He isn’t throwing parties to satisfy people because Fitzgerald explains that Gatsby doesn’t even know most of the people who come to his parties.

The green light that Gatsby is reaching in the first chapter of the book symbolizes his reaching toward his hopes and dreams for Daisy. Jay Gatsby’s house, a gigantic mansion, always empty, symbolizes Gatsby being empty and lonely because he cannot find his happiness of having Daisy back, and it also can represent the roaring twenties by having his parties. A billboard overlooking the Valley of Ashes can be symbolized as the rich overlooking the poor, and to some people, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg can be a symbol of God.

References

  1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “The Great Gatsby.” 
  2. Bryer, Jackson R., and Cathy W. Barks, eds. “F. Scott Fitzgerald: New Perspectives.”
  3. Tredell, Nicolas. “F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby.”
  4. Lathbury, Roger. “Fitzgerald’s Seasons: The Symbolic Structure of The Great Gatsby.” 

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