Pentecost (Gr. ., fiftieth), one of the three principal festivals of the Jews, so called in Greek and modern languages because it was celebrated on the 50th day after the feast of the passover, but originally called the "feast of weeks" (in the book of Tobit, , the feast of seven weeks), because it was celebrated seven weeks after the 16th day of the first month of the Mosaic calendar (Nisan). It was the feast of the first fruits of the harvest, and stood as the culmination of the consecrated season, and was characterized by a hospitable liberality and re-membraDce of the poor. Its distinguishing rite was the offering of two loaves of leavened bread from the new crop. In foreign countries, since the captivity, the Jews have prolonged it to two days, and in later times it has been kept as the commemoration of the revelation of the law on Sinai, of which it is the anniversary. - The day is also kept as a festival in the Christian church, and among Latin and Greek Christians ranks next after Easter. It commemorates the day when, as related in Acts ii., the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles, and bestowed on them the gift of tongues. The conversion of 3,000 persons was held to be the beginning of the preaching of the gospel to all nations.
The festival of Pentecost was in the early ages one of the favorite seasons for administering baptism; and as those who received it were clothed in white to symbolize the spiritual purity which baptism confers, the day acquired the name of Whitsunday or Whitsuntide.