Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday Quick Facts - US

AKA NameMaundy Thursday
HashtagsCompiled on#MaundyThursday, #HolyThursday
Related Hashtags#HymnExperience24
2024 DateMarch 28, 2024
2025 DateApril 17, 2025

Holy Thursday

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Holy Thursday History

Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his Apostles as described in the New Testament. This event is characterized by two significant actions performed by Jesus; the washing of the feet of his disciples, symbolizing eradicating sin and purifying the soul, and instituting the sacrament of the Eucharist, signifying his forthcoming sacrifice on the cross. These acts form the heart of the Maundy Thursday liturgy and are crucial to the Christian understanding of service and sacrifice.

The observance of Holy Thursday developed throughout the centuries, with foot-washing becoming part of the celebration in the seventh century, while the re-enactment of the Last Supper was integrated later. In an American context, Holy Thursday takes on multifold significance. Beyond religious observance, it calls to mind values that are integral to America's foundation, such as service to others, humility, fellowship, and communion. Furthermore, it presents an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices that have been made throughout American history, both religious and secular.

In America, Holy Thursday is observed in different ways depending on the specific traditions of each Christian denomination. However, common practices include communal celebrations of the Eucharist and foot-washing ceremonies, which serve as powerful signs of humility and service. Special church services are held, often including a procession and sometimes the reenactment of the Last Supper. While the date of Holy Thursday changes every year, it is always the Thursday before Easter, falling between March 19 and April 22, which follows the lunar calendar.

Facts & quotes about Holy Thursday

  • Some Holy Thursday services include stripping of the Altar, held in church. It's an ancient practice that represents the abandonment and desolation the disciples felt after Jesus was arrested. Designated people take down all decorations and the Bible for the church sanctuary. The items will be put back Easter Sunday morning, sometimes in a procession.
  • Foot-washing celebrates the servant hood of Jesus. The word Maundy comes from mandatum novum in Latin, new commandment which refers to the scripture found in John 13:34-35. After Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, he says, a new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
  • The words used in Holy Communion reflect what Jesus told his disciples: Take, eat. This is my body broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me. … Drink for this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
  • Into each of our lives Jesus comes as the bread of life... to be eaten, to be consumed by us. Then He comes as the hungry one, the other, hoping to be fed with the bread of our life, our hearts loving, and our hands serving. - Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

Top things to do in the US for Holy Thursday

  • Attend a Holy Thursday service. Some denominations, such as Roman Catholicism, require you to be a member to be given communion, but many Protestant Churches do not.
  • Participate in a foot-washing service. This puts many people outside of their comfort zone. Washing someone else's feet is an intimate act, but it was the lowliest act that a slave in Israel performed. It demonstrates ability to love and serve others.
  • Take a close at Michelangelo's The Last Supper. Notice what each of the disciples is doing, and how Jesus is portrayed.
  • Watch The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) with Max von Sydow as Jesus. Pay attention to the Last Supper scene.

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