It was in England and Ireland that Pentecost began to be called Whitsunday. “Whit” is an abbreviated version of “white”. The clothes worn that day and the following Sunday are traditionally red, but in Britain white has often been replaced, and it was also customary for members of the congregation to wear white. It is said to be a memory of the white clothes worn by the first catechumens. They were seekers who had undergone a long preparation for baptism, which was finally celebrated at Pentecost.
At the beginning of the 15th century, an Augustinian cleric, John Mirk, informed the parishioners of Shropshire that the true meaning of Whitsunday was “spirit” rather than “white”, for that was the day the Holy Spirit infused the apostles. with knowledge and understanding (wit) and wisdom. Whatever the origin, Pentecost, often shortened to Pentecost, was popular and its observance extended until the following Sunday, a period called Pentecost or Pentecost Week.
As the first holiday of the summer, Pentecost Week was packed with activities. There were boat races, foot races, wrestling and boxing matches, contests, fairs, walks, special songs and Morris dances to mark one of the happiest moments in Grande- Brittany. Eventually there were parades that remained annual events in places like Manchester until modern times. Even the industrial revolution gave way to the spirit of the party.
While Pentecost had initially been a hiatus in agricultural activity, the booming industrial age has adapted to custom. Factories were closed during the week for cleanup and business activity was curtailed. Women, dressed in white, took shopping trips while the men focused on gambling and drinking.