Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday Quick Facts - CA

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 disciples before his crucifixion, marking the institution of the Holy Eucharist. This observance is important in the liturgical calendar as it begins the Triduum, the three-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, characterised by fasting, prayer, and penance. The title 'Maundy' is derived from the Latin word 'mandatum', meaning 'command', referring to the command Jesus gave his followers at the Last Supper to love and serve one another.

The practice of Holy Thursday can be traced back to early Christian communities. Its observance varies across Christian denominations and cultural contexts. In Canada, with Christianity being the major religion, many Canadians revere this day as a critical juncture in the Jesus Christ’s journey, asserting the values of service, humility, and brotherly love. Apart from religious implications, Holy Thursday has a cultural impact as many art forms, literature, music, and drama have parts of the Last Supper and subsequent events as their themes.

In Canada, Holy Thursday is typically observed by those of the Christian faith through religious services and rituals. The Maundy Thursday worship service often includes the washing of feet, following the example of Jesus Christ, and a ceremony called 'stripping the altar', symbolizing the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples. The day occurs as part of the Holy Week, the last week of Lent, preceding Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It falls on the Thursday before Easter Sunday, which in Canada, as elsewhere, is a moveable feast based on the cycle of the moon, and can take place anytime between March 19 and April 22.

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.
  • In Newfoundland and Labrador, Holy Thursday has been locally known as "Spy Wednesday". It is believed that the term is derived from an old tradition related to Judas Iscariot, who is considered as a 'spy' who betrayed Jesus Christ.
  • In Quebec, elders may recall "La journée des tout petits", a tradition where children would go to church to kiss the feet of the statue of Jesus.

Top things to do in Canada 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.
  • Join the Seven Churches Visitation: Traditionally after the Holy Thursday service, some people take a pilgrimage to visit seven churches. This custom is practised by many Christians, especially among Catholics, to commemorate the Seven Last Words of Jesus.
  • Practice Silent Prayer Vigils: Many churches in Canada hold silent prayer vigils that last into the night on Holy Thursday. This is done to replicate the Apostles' stay in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus the night before his crucifixion.

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