Maundy Thursday in Western Christianity Date in the current year: April 18, 2019

Maundy Thursday in Western Christianity Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. This holy day commemorates the Maundy (washing of the feet) and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. It is a public holiday in most countries that were part of the Danish colonial empire or the Spanish empire.

Maundy Thursday is also referred to as Holy Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Thursday of Mysteries, Green Thursday, White Thursday, or Sheer Thursday. The prevalence of each name depends on the geographical area. The date of the holiday always falls between March 19 and April 22 inclusive, depending on the date of Easter.

The name “Maundy Thursday” is a reference to the Christian rite of foot washing observed by many denominations. The ritual has biblical roots; for example, the Gospel of John tells the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Today, the liturgical washing of the feet is observed on Maundy Thursday. During the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the priest washes the feet of a number of people in the congregation (usually twelve, as a reference to the number of the Apostles).

The Mass itself commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus. According to the gospels, the Last Supper was the final meal that Jesus shared with his Apostles before his crucifixion. During the meal Jesus predicted his betrayal by Judas Iscariot, and foretold that before the next morning, the Apostle Peter would deny knowledge of him.

After the liturgy held on the evening of Maundy Thursday, the so-called Easter Triduum begins. It is the three-day period commemorating the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as described in the canonical gospels.

In some countries, there are specific customs associated with Maundy Thursday. In the UK, for example, the monarch distributes small silver coins, known as Maundy coins, at the church service. Dating back to King Edward I, the ceremony is held at a different church each year. There’s a rule that the service must not be held in London more often than once a decade.

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, people usually use the first fresh, green vegetable to cook holiday meals. Therefore, Maundy Thursday is often called “Green Thursday” in these countries. In Sweden, the day is associated with witches because of old folklore. There’s a custom similar to trick-or-treating where children would dress up as witches and go from house to house, getting coins or candy.

In some countries, people still observe the old tradition of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday evening. They include Malta, the Philippines, and Singapore. In the Indian state of Kerala, which has a significant Christian minority, the custom is to visit fourteen churches.

Maundy Thursday is a public holiday in Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Mexico, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela. In addition, there are countries where bank/public sector employees are given the afternoon off. In some German states, it is declared an official holiday for public sector employees.

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Category

Religious Holidays

Country

Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Mexico, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Spain, Venezuela, Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia, East Timor, El Salvador, Faeroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Nicaragua, Peru, Portugal, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Sweden, Uruguay, British Virgin Island

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Maundy Thursday in Western Christianity, religious holiday, public holiday, Holy Thursday, Easter