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(from Greek pentecoste, fiftieth day) Christian festival commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus, occurring on the Jewish Pentecost, after Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. The disciples began to speak in the many languages of the people assembled there, a sign that the disciples should spread the Christian message throughout the world. Jewish Pentecost was a thanksgiving feast for the first fruits of the wheat harvest and was associated with remembrance of God's gift of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Christian Pentecost is celebrated on the Sunday concluding the 50-day period following Easter. It is also the name of the Jewish celebration of Shavuot (Festival of Weeks).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Pentecost, visit Britannica.com.