Christians mark Maundy Thursday, which commemorates the Last Supper, every year on the Thursday before Easter. It’s also know as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, and the Thursday of Mysteries in various traditions.
Maundy refers to the foot-washing Jesus provided the apostles prior to the Last Supper. Christians around the world, especially Catholics, mark the day with a special mass and prayers.
The word “Maundy” itself comes from an Anglo-French word derived from the Latin “mandatum,” which means “commandment.”
Maundy Thursday - History
Honoring Notre Dame
UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced bells will ring at cathedrals across England on Maundy Thursday. It's a show of support for France following the devastating Notre Dame fire.
The Book of Common Prayer was published in Britain calling for the Chrism Mass to be consecrated by Anglican Bishops.
The bombing of Manila
Maundy Thursday in the Philippines commemorates the seven churches that were destroyed when Manila was bombed in 1945.
In the United Kingdom, the Church of England created Maundy Coins, handed to parishioners to mark Maundy Thursday. The coins replaced the real currency that was previously given to parishioners as charity.
How to Observe Maundy Thursday
Go to church
Christian churches celebrate with a special mass and prayers. Even if you're not a Christian or a believer, you can learn a lot about one of the more important days on the Christian calendar by visiting a local Christian church.
Learn the story
Holy Wednesday and Maundy Thursday represent the beginning of the transformational story of the death and resurrection of Jesus. We're all better off if we deepen our understanding of the faith traditions of others. Pick up a book or watch a documentary that highlights the importance of Maundy Thursday within Christianity.
Spend the day being humble
Maundy Thursday is a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of humility. Regardless of your own faith traditions, use Maundy Thursday to check yourself throughout the day for signs that you could always use a bit more humility in your life.
Maundy Thursday Around The World
Czech Republic and Slovakia
Maundy Thursday in local parlance translates to Green Thursday, when meals are prepared primarily from fresh, green vegetables.
Kerala State, India
Unleavened Pehasa bread is made in homes and consumed with coconut milk.
Maundy Thursday is connected to old folklore as the day of the witches. Similar to Halloween, children dress up as witches and go door-to-door collecting coins or candy.
Bulgarians color Easter eggs and clean their houses in preparation for what they call Crucifixion Friday.
Church bells fall silent on Maundy Thursday until Easter, marking a symbolic migration to Rome for confession.
Why Maundy Thursday is Important
Holy Week is one of the more important celebrations on the Christian Calendar, and Maundy Thursday is a key day of the week. Christian traditions from around the globe, from Armenia to Africa to Germany, mark the day with special masses and prayers.
It celebrates humility
The washing of the disciples' feet by Jesus was intended to be a sign of humility. Jesus was humbling himself before his own servants as a last gesture before knowing he was to be crucified. Masses on this day now highlight the importance of humility in the Christian faith.
It ties Christian denominations together
Christian faiths celebrate Maundy Thursday throughout the world. Part of its tradition, which carries into Good Friday, is for observers to visit 14 different Christian churches, one for each station of the cross. It unifies the Christian church regardless of region or country.