Easter Traditions: Maundy Thursday
Holy Week is the last week of Lent and leads up to Easter.
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday of Holy Week and is the beginning of the three day celebration of Easter - the most important time in the year for Christians.
On this day Jesus had his last meal with his friends and followers, which 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 Last Supper
This meal is often called 'The Last Supper' as Jesus was betrayed and crucified on the next day, which we now call Good Friday. Jesus washed the disciples' feet before the meal in order to demonstrate the importance of serving others.
During this 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.
Why called Maundy Thursday?
The word 'Maundy' comes to us as an Anglo-French word derived from the Latin 'mandatum', which means 'commandment'. At the meal that Jesus had with his followers, he told them: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34.
On Maundy Thursday the Queen normally hands out special purses of coins to elderly people who have worked in the community - one for every year of the Queen's life. The monarch hands out to each recipient two small leather string purses. A red purse contains ordinary coins and a white one contains the silver Maundy coins.
This is done every year on the Thursday before Good Friday and dates back from the reign of Edward I in the 13th century.
Maundy coins are specially minted small silver coins for the occasion and are legal tender and, as they are produced in such limited numbers, they are much sought after by collectors.
Obviously in 2021 again because of the coronavirus pandemic the Queen has cancelled all forthcoming engagements and so the distribution of the Maundy Money will not be taking place.