This year, Pentecost Sunday is the same weekend as Memorial Day. What a fabulous opportunity to celebrate two of the biggest holidays of the year in both the Church’s liturgical calendar AND the secular calendar!
Pentecost is the second largest feast day in the Church, coming in both literally and in rank, after Easter. Seven weeks after Easter, we celebrate the day that the Holy Spirit filled the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Memorial Day, created to honor those brave souls who sacrificed their lives for our country, is considered the first weekend of summer. Two huge feasts, one big party weekend.
So how can you celebrate them together?
Decorating for the two holidays should be fairly easy.Doves (white) are the symbol of the Holy Spirit and red is the color of the Holy Spirit. For Memorial Day, people typically decorate in red, white and blue. For easy, dual decorating, use your typical red, white and blue Americana decorations.
To further link the two together, add doves, greenery (symbolic of life, the color green represents hope and life) and decorate in sets of 3, 7 or 12. Three is symbolic of the three theological virtues given to us by the Holy Spirit, seven is symbolic of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and twelve is symbolic of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
The original Jewish celebration of Pentecost was the celebration of the first fruits of the harvest. As such, it is traditional to eat foods made of grains during the feast of Pentecost. I found a fabulous cherry almond cheese coffee cake at Catholic Cuisine during the Feast of St. Nicholas last year that would be great.It’s a grain base, a white cream cheese & red cherry pie filling. All the symbolism is there and would make a fabulous breakfast before church on Sunday morning.
Here are some other awesome recipes that would be great for your Pentecost and Memorial Day weekend celebration:
- Twelve Fruit Salad
- Pentecost Cake with Strawberry Frosting (I would buy an angel food cake mix myself – I have a bad history with egg whites or alternately, this Pentecost Cake which is much more my speed.
- Flames of Pentecost Cupcakes
- Alton Brown’s Ring of Fire Grilled Chicken
Attention to those who have died serving our country has fallen by the wayside. Many cemeteries have services for our fallen heroes on Memorial Day. Check your local paper or church bulletin – last year, our bishop held a Memorial Day service in the Catholic Cemetery and I think they even asked for volunteers for people to help put out flags on veterans stones that weekend. you know of someone, you could do a tombstone rubbing.
Traditionally, columbine is the traditional flower of Pentecost because the petals are shaped likes doves; that is how they got their name. Poppies are the traditional flower of Memorial Day, started in 1915 by Moina Michael and popularized by the VFW. If you can’t find either of those, any red and/or white flower with greenery would be fabulous addition to your celebration. I personally like grocery store bouquets the best!
For Pentecost, anything about the Holy Spirit would probably be appropriate. My absolute favorite suggestion would be to sing the traditional Come, Holy Spirit. If you enjoy Gregorian Chant, you can find the CD for Pentacost at Angeleus Press. If you would like some more contemporary ideas, GIA has several suggestions.
For Memorial Day, secular patriotic music is in abundance. Classically, you could go with the Marches of Sousa. Other traditional tunes include Stars and Stripes Forever or The Star-Spangled Banner. If you like it, country music has TONS of patriotic music especially after September 11th. If you search patriotic music on Amazon you will find thousands of choices.
Do you usually celebrate Pentecost? What are your traditions?
Jen can be found writing at Happy Little Homemaker.
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Photo by bsabarnowl.