Pentecost is a Church festival celebrated to mark the advent of the Holy Spirit and the founding of the Church. The Christian Pentecost is also associated with the awakening of nature at Whitsun. It falls 50 days after Easter, i.e. at the earliest on 11 May and at the latest on 14 June.
Although it is actually on Easter Morning that the sun dances with joy at Christ’s resurrection, it is Whitsunday morning which – probably because of the Danish climate – has come to prevail as the morning when the Danes go to see the sun dance. Since the mid 19th century, it has been a widespread custom either not to go to bed after the festivities on Whit Saturday and night or to get up early to drink morning coffee and perhaps a glass of aquavit and bitters (‘Gammel Dansk’) near the places where the sun can be seen.
Whitsun has also been used for picnics in the woods and other outings, especially by the urban workers who went out into nature to experience the arrival of summer. In the country, the buildings had to be white-washed before Whitsun and in some places Whitsun ‘summer-comes-to-town’ festivals were held.
For the last couple of decades, there has been a Whitsun Carnival in Copenhagen, where costumed processions dance through the city to samba rhythms to gather in one of the city parks.