From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Who put the Whit in Whitsun?

2010 Whit Walks (Photo by Richerman)
Not only is there a Whitsun in the United Kingdom - but there is also a Whit Sunday (from whence Whitsun was derived, say that three times fast), a Whit Monday (the day after Whit Sunday, good guess), a Whit Friday (the Friday after), a Whitsuntide (the week after),  Whit Walks (actually parades), Whit Fairs (sometimes called Ales), and – of course - just plain Whit (bringing us right back to yet another name for Whit Sunday).

Wikipedia (with lots of wit, but little Whit) tells us that "Whit" is often thought to be an abbreviation of "White" due to the "white garments worn by catechumens" and the white vestments  in England that were often worn on Whitsun.  Also, young English women tended to come to church wearing new white dresses on that day.

Wikipedia also mentions that John Mirk, an Augustinian canon from Shropshire who lived circa 1382 to 1414 CE), had this different interpretation:  Good men and wimmen, this day (Dies Penthecostes) is called Wytsonday by cause the holy ghost bought wytte and wisdom into Crists dyscyples… (Wit being strongly associated with wisdom back then – are you listening, Comedy Central?).


Copyright May 16, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment