Don't let the day go by without creating some fanfare!
Today is Pentecost, which is a major – if sometimes overlooked – celebration on the Church calendar. The word pentecost comes from the Greek and means “fiftieth.” Each year, Pentecost comes exactly 50 days after Easter, commemorating the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Unlike Christmas and Easter, Pentecost doesn’t have a strong cultural tradition attached to it, so we’re on our own to think up fun ways to celebrate with the family. Never fear, because the internet is a creative place and is here to help.
Here are a few of my favorite ideas that I found (along with a few of my own) …
1Make a fruit salad
The Holy Spirit is said to bring nine spiritual fruits – Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control – So what could be more natural than to celebrate by making a literal fruit salad? Each fruit represents a gift of the Holy Spirit.
2Celebrate with birthday cake!
Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, the moment that thousands of people from diverse backgrounds converted and the Church became a global phenomenon. Making or buying a birthday cake is a delicious reminder that the Church is one year older. Each candle can represent a century in the life of the church, so twenty candles the two thousand year history of the Church. Bonus points if you explain to the children that the flames on the candles are “tongues of fire.”
Before it was a Christian holiday, Pentecost was a Jewish holiday called the Festival of Weeks, which was a harvest festival to celebrate the wheat harvest. As part of the festivities, loaves of bread were baked and offered in the Temple. Everyone loves fresh baked bread, so this is the perfect excuse to remember the original meaning of the holiday and do some baking with the family.
4Take food to the local food pantry
Continuing with the food theme, during the Jewish Festival, the people were reminded to provide for the poor. Perhaps when you’re baking that cake or bread, make extra to take down the local food pantry or homeless shelter?
5Decorate with the color red
Because of its connection with the tongues of fire, churches all decorate with red on Pentecost. You can do the same at home — red streamers, red napkins, red plates. It’s simple and easy but helps the kids recognize it’s a special day.
6Do a multi-language craft project
At the first Pentecost, St. Peter began speaking in many languages as a sign of both diversity and unity. To signify this, you can cut out dove or flame shapes and write “Holy Spirit,” or some other word like “Unity,” or “Peace,” on them in many different languages.
7Create some flame hats!
As much as my boys would love hats that are actually on fire, I’m thinking more of a construction paper project. It could look like this example from Joyful Mama’s Place, or I thought it would also be a great idea to make a bishop’s hat. Called a miter, a bishop’s hat is meant to symbolize a flame.
8Make a mobile
A mobile with doves and flames that appear to be descending would be neat and would showcase how these gifts, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, descended upon the disciples at the first Pentecost and continues to descend on our homes.
Why do priests wear red on Pentecost?