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Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday)
 

This page has moved to projectbritain.com/easter/maundythursday.htm

What is Maundy Thursday?

Maundy Thursday - also called Holy Thursday, is the beginning of the three day celebration of Easter - the most important time in the year for Christians. This period ('The Triduum') is one big celebration, remembering the last supper, the crucifixion and the death of Jesus, and the Resurrection to new life.

Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles.

The Last Supper
On this day, Christians remember the Last Supper. During the meal Jesus took bread and wine and shared them with his disciples. Christians continue to share bread and wine as part of their worship in church.

The Last Supper was probably a Passover meal – the meal which Jewish people share together to celebrate the time when God delivered Moses and the people from slavery in Egypt.

The night of Maundy Thursday is the night on which Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.

 cross When is Maundy Thursday?

Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday. It is one of the lesser known days of the Christian calendar.

Maundy Thursday 2012 falls on 5 April

cross What is the origin of the name Maundy?

The name 'Maundy' is derived from the Latin word “mandatum”, meaning a commandment. Jesus Christ, at the Last Supper, commanded:

'And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.' John 13:34

cross The washing of feet

During the Last Supper, Jesus washed his disciples' feet. This act has sometimes been followed literally in history as a good way of reminding rulers that they are here to serve their subjects.

cross What once happened in England on Maundy Thursday?

In England, the custom of washing feet by the Monarch was carried out until 1689. Up until then the King or Queen would wash the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday in Westminster Abbey. (You should, however, note that the feet were first washed by Yeoman of the Laundry before the monarch had to wash them and kiss them!). Food and clothing were also handed out to the poor.

Maundy Thursday Ceremony

In Britain today, the Queen follows a very traditional role of giving Maundy Money to a group of pensioners. The tradition of the Sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the 13th century, from the reign of Edward I.

At one time recipients were required to be of the same sex as the Sovereign, but since the eighteenth century they have numbered as many men and women as the Sovereign has years of age.

Every year on this day, the Queen attends a Royal Maundy service in one of the many cathedrals throughout the country. 'Maundy money' is distributed to male and female pensioners from local communities near the Cathedral where the Service takes place.

HM The Queen will visit Derby Cathedral for the 2010 Maundy Thursday service on 1st April.

cross The Service

Yeomen of the GuardsYeomen of the Guards carry the Maundy money in red and white leather purses on golden alms trays on their heads.

The money in the red purse is money in lieu of food and clothing while the money in the white purse is the Maundy coins.

From the fifteenth century, the amount of Maundy coins handed out, and the number of people receiving the coins, is related to the years of the Sovereign’s life.

In 2009, each recipient was given two purses – a red purse containing a £5 coin celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Accession of Henry VIII and a 50p coin to mark the founding of Kew Gardens, and a white purse containing 83p in Maundy coins because the Queen is 83 years old this year.

The men and women who will receive the coins are all retired pensioners recommended by clergy and ministers of all denominations, in recognition of service to the Church and to the community.

cross What is Maundy Money?

Maundy coins are specially minted for the occasion and are legal tender and, as they are produced in such limited numbers, they are much sought after by collectors.

A complete set of Maundy money consists of:

groat
threepence
half-groat
a penny
groat (4p)
threepence (3p)
half-groat (2p)
a penny (1p)


cross Other Maundy Thursday Rituals

Many Christians commemorate the Last Supper in a special Eucharist. In some churches, they may wash each other's feet. After the service the altar is stripped. Some Christians may hold an all night vigil in church, remembering Christ's time in the Garden of Gethsemane.

"On Maundy Thursday evening, all over the Roman Christian World (as opposed to the Orthodox Christians who celebrate Easter in a couple of weeks time), people will be celebrate the re-enactment of Our Lords Last Supper, The Mass/ Holy Communion. I celebrate it with the rest of my church in a small Norfolk Church where Maundy Thursday has been celebrated for the past 1200 years.

After our Holy Communion we shall move off to a house and then celebrate a Sader meal, another enactment of the Last Supper Jesus of Nazareth shared together with his friends before being arrested and trialled on Good Friday."

Philip W


"Here in Australia at St. Luke's Anglican Church in the Parish of Concord and Burwood ( this is in Sydney) Father Cliff Stratton will conduct a Maundy Thursday Service with Footwashing and / or Handwashing.

The Church is then stripped, and Good Friday sees a traditional service followed by Hot Cross Buns.
Easter Saturday will see an Easter garden built by the children and the Church cleaned, ready for the celebrations on Easter Sunday."

John Wherry
Rector's Warden


"Here in Colorado Springs, Colorado (USA), our church (Sunrise United Methodist Church - pastor: Marv Vose) does a reenactment of the Last Supper, aptly called, "The Living Last Supper". Church members fill the roles of Jesus and the 12 disciples. Each "disciple" discusses how he felt when Jesus tells the group that a disciple will betray Him. Afterward we take communion."


Read about Easter

Do you have any Maundy Thursday customs in your country?
Please add a comment to our blog.

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© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites projectbritain.com and primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.