|Also called||Holy Thursday|
Great and Holy Thursday
Thursday of Mysteries
|Type||Christian / Civic|
|Significance||commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ|
|Observances||Mass; distribution of Maundy money|
|Date||Thursday before Easter|
March 24 (Western)April 28 (Eastern)
April 13 (Western)April 13 (Eastern)
March 29 (Western)April 5 (Eastern)
April 18 (Western)April 25 (Eastern)
|Related to||Holy Week|
Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, among other names) is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday.
The date is always between 19 March and 22 April inclusive, but these dates fall on different days depending on whether the Gregorian or Julian calendar is used liturgically. Eastern churches generally use the Julian calendar, and so celebrate this feast throughout the 21st century between 1 April and 5 May in the more commonly used Gregorian calendar. The liturgy held on the evening of Maundy Thursday initiates the Easter Triduum, the period which commemorates the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ; this period includes Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and ends on the evening of Easter. The Massor service of worship is normally celebrated in the evening, when Friday begins according to Jewishtradition, as, according to the three Synoptic Gospels, the Last Supper was held on the feast of Passover, the seder; according to the Gospel of John, however, Jesus had his last supper on Nisan 14, the night before the first night of Passover.
Use of the names "Maundy Thursday", "Holy Thursday", and others is not evenly distributed. What is the generally accepted name for the day varies according to geographical area and religious affiliation. Thus, although in England "Maundy Thursday" is the normal term, the term is rarely used in Ireland, Scotland or Canada. People may use one term in a religious context and another in the context of the civil calendar of the country in which they live. The day is sometimes called Easter Thursday, which actually refers to the day one week later, that is, the Thursday after Easter.
The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, which is the mother Church of the Anglican Communion, uses the name "Maundy Thursday" for this observance. The corresponding publication of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, which is another province of the Anglican Communion, also refers to the Thursday before Easter as "Maundy Thursday". Throughout the Anglican Communion, the term "Holy Thursday" is a synonym for Ascension Day.
As of 2017, the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church uses the name "Holy Thursday" in its official English-language liturgical books. The personal ordinariates in the Catholic Church, which have an Anglican patrimony, retain the traditional English term "Maundy Thursday", however. An article in the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia used the term "Maundy Thursday", and some Catholic writers use the same term either primarily, or alternatively.
The Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965) uses the term "Maundy Thursday"; the Book of Worship (1992) uses the term "Holy Thursday" and other official sources of the United Methodist Church use both "Maundy Thursday" and "Holy Thursday".
Both names are used by other Christian denominations as well, including the Lutheran Church or portions of the Reformed Church. The Presbyterian Church uses the term "Maundy Thursday" to refer to the holy day in its official sources.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the name for the holy day is, in the Byzantine Rite, "Great and Holy Thursday" or "Holy Thursday", and in Western Rite Orthodoxy "Maundy Thursday", "Holy Thursday" or both. The Coptic Orthodox Church uses the term "Covenant Thursday" or "Thursday of the Covenant".
"Maundy Thursday" is the official name of the day in the civil legislation of England and the Philippines.
The day has also been known in English as Shere Thursday (also spelled Sheer Thursday), from the word shere (meaning "clean" or "bright"). This name might refer to the act of cleaning, or to the fact that churches would switch liturgical colors from the dark tones of Lent, or because it was customary to shear the beard on that day, or for a combination of reasons. This name has cognates throughout Scandinavia, such as Danish Skærtorsdag, Norwegian Skjærtorsdag, Faroese Skírhósdagur and Skírisdagur, and Icelandic Skírdagur. In Swedish, the day is known as Skärtorsdag, with Skär being an archaic word for wash.
Derivation of the name "Maundy"
Most scholars agree that the English word maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum (also the origin of the English word "mandate"), the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.") This statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John 13:34 by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. The phrase is used as the antiphon sung in the Roman Rite during the "Mandatum" ceremony of the washing of the feet, which may be held during Mass or as a separate event, during which a priest or bishop (representing Christ) ceremonially washes the feet of others, typically 12 persons chosen as a cross-section of the community. In 2016, it was announced that the Roman Missal had been revised to allow women to participate as part of the 12 in the Mandatum; previously, only males partook of the rite.
Others theorize that the English name "Maundy Thursday" arose from "maundsor baskets" or "maundy purses" of alms which the king of England distributed to certain poor at Whitehall before attending Mass on that day. Thus, "maund" is connected to the Latin mendicare, and French mendier, to beg. A source from the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod likewise states that, if the name was derived from the Latin mandatum, we would call the day Mandy Thursday, or Mandate Thursday, or even Mandatum Thursday; and that the term "Maundy" comes in fact from the Latin mendicare, Old French mendier, and English maund, which as a verb means to beg and as a noun refers to a small basket held out by maunders as they maunded. Other sources reject this etymology.
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The Washing of the Feet is a traditional component of the celebration among many Christian groups, including the Armenian, Ethiopian, Eastern Catholic, Schwarzenau (German Baptist) Brethren, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, and Roman Catholic traditions. The practice is also becoming increasingly popular as a part of the Maundy Thursday liturgy in the Anglican/Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterianchurches, as well as in other Protestant denominations. In the Catholic Church and in some Anglican churches, the Mass of the Lord's Supper begins as usual, but the Gloria is accompanied by the ringing of bells, which are then silent until the Easter Vigil. After the homily the washing of feet may be performed. The Blessed Sacrament remains exposed, at least in the Catholic Mass, until the service concludes with a procession taking it to the place of reposition. The altar is later stripped bare, as are all other altars in the church except the Altar of Repose. In pre-1970 editions, the Roman Missal envisages this being done ceremonially, to the accompaniment of Psalm 21/22, a practice which continues in many Anglican churches. In other Christian denominations, such as the Lutheran Church or Methodist Church, the stripping of the altar and other items on the chancel also occurs, as a preparation for the somber Good Friday service.