Pentecôte is yet another occasion at the end of May/beginning of June, when many small businesses make it a long weekend!
This movable religious tradition takes place 50 days after Easter, celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit amongst Jesus’s Apostles. The word ’Pentecôte’, originates from ’pentêkostê’ meaning ’fiftieth’ (day) in Greek.
Pentecôte was a public holiday until 2005, when the French government, led by President Chirac, decided to cancel it!
After the heat wave of 2003, which caused the deaths of an estimated 13,000 elderly people in France, the government wanted to use this day to raise funds to better support the elderly and disabled. They called it ’Solidarity Day’ (Journée de Solidarité), and asked workers to work this day for no extra pay.
But this is France! After several years of demonstrations, with the majority of the French work force resolutely sticking to its guns and remaining at home, Lundi de Pentecôte was reinstated as a public holiday in 2008.
The ‘Journée de Solidarité’ still exists, but businesses can choose whether to take it on this day or later in the year. Although this day is officially ‘férié’, employees who choose not to work on Lundi de Pentecôte must count it as part of their holiday allowance, or make it up another time.
Incidentally, did you know that ’Whit Monday’, comes from the white robes worn on Pentecost by those who have been newly baptized?