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Pentecost

Commemorated on Second Sunday Feast of the Ascension
Pentecost
The liturgical celebrations of Pentecost in Western churches are as rich and varied as those in the East. The main sign of Pentecost in the West is the color red. It symbolizes joy and the fire of the Holy Spirit. Priests or ministers & choirs wear red vestments, and in modern times, the custom has extended to the lay people of the congregation wearing red clothing in celebration as well. Red banners are often hung from walls or ceilings to symbolize the blowing of the "mighty wind"[19] and the free movement of the Spirit.[20]
They may depict symbols of the Holy Spirit, such as the dove or flames, symbols of the church such as Noah's Ark and the Pomegranate, or especially within Protestant churches of Reformed and Evangelical traditions, words rather than images naming for example, the gifts and Fruits of the Spirit. Red flowers at the altar/ preaching area, and red flowering plants such as geraniums around the church are also typical decorations for Pentecost masses/services. These symbolize the renewal of life, the coming of the warmth of summer, and the growth of the church at and from the first Pentecost.[21]
These flowers often play an important role in the ancestral rites, and other rites, of the particular congregation. For example, in both Protestant & Catholic churches, the plants brought in to decorate for the holiday may be each "sponsored" by individuals in memory of a particular loved one, or in honor of a living person on a significant occasion, such as their Confirmation day. These dedications are then printed in bulletins distributed at the service.[21]
In the German speaking lands, in Central Europe, and wherever the people of these nations have wandered, green branches are also traditionally used to decorate churches for Pentecost. Birch is the tree most typically associated with this practice in Europe, but other species are employed in different climates.
The singing of Pentecost hymns is also central to the celebration in the Western tradition. Hymns such as Martin Luther's "Come Holy Spirit God & Lord" ("Komm Heiliger Geist Herre Gott"),[22][23] Charles Wesley's "Spirit of Faith Come Down"[24][25] & "Come Holy Ghost Our Hearts Inspire"[26] or Hildegard von Bingen's "O Holy Spirit Root of Life"[27][28] are popular. Some traditional hymns of Pentecost make reference not only to themes relating to the Holy Spirit or the church, but to folk customs connected to the holiday as well, such as the decorating with green branches.[29]
Consider "Oh that I had a Thousand Voices" ("O daß ich tausend Zungen hätte")[30][31] by German, Johann Mentzer Verse 2: "Ye forest leaves so green and tender, that dance for joy in summer air…" or "O Day Full of Grace" ("Den signede Dag")[32][33] by Dane, N. F. S. Grundtvig verse 3: "Yea were every tree endowed with speech and every leaflet singing…". In the Roman Catholic Church, Veni Sancte Spiritus is the sequence hymn for the Day of Pentecost. This has been translated into many languages and is sung in many denominations today. See also Veni Creator Spiritus.[34][35]
Trumpeters or brass ensembles are often specially contracted to accompany singing and provide special music at Pentecost services, recalling the Sound of the mighty wind.[19] While this practice is common among a wide spectrum of Western denominations (Eastern Churches do not employ instrumental accompaniment in their worship) it is particularly typical, and distinctive to the heritage of the Moravian Church.[36]
Holy Ghost holes
 
 
Saints Vitus and Katharina Church in Rehling
 
St. Blaise Church in Dillingen an der Donau
 
Saints Peter and Paul Church in Söll
Another custom is reading the appointed Scripture lessons in multiple foreign languages recounting the speaking in tongues recorded in Acts 2:4-12.[37]
In the Middle Ages, cathedrals and great churches throughout Western Europe were fitted with a peculiar architectural feature known as a Holy Ghost hole; a small circular opening in the roof that symbolized the entrance of Holy Spirit into the midst of the assembled worshippers. At Pentecost, these Holy Ghost holes would be decorated with flowers, and sometimes a dove figure lowered through into the church while the story of the Pentecost was read. Holy Ghost holes can still be seen today in European churches such as Canterbury Cathedral.[citation needed]
Similarly, a large two dimensional dove figure would be, and in some places still are, cut out of wood, painted and decorated with flowers, to be lowered over the people, particularly during the singing of the sequence hymn, or Veni Creator Spiritus. In other places, particularly Sicily and the Italian peninsula, rose petals were and are thrown from the galleries over the congregation calling to mind the tongues of fire. In modern times, this practice has been revived, and interestingly adapted as well, to include the strewing of origami doves from above, or suspending them – sometimes by the hundreds – from the ceiling.[38]
In some cases, red fans, or red handkerchiefs are distributed to the assembled worshippers to be waved during the procession, etc. Other congregations have incorporated the use of red balloons, signifying the "Church's Birthday" into their festivities. These may be carried by worshippers, used to decorate the sanctuary, or released all at once.

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