Maundy Thursday is always the last Thursday before Easter Sunday, and forms part of the Christian annual calendar. This year, it’ll be celebrated on Thursday April 1.
The day is sometimes referred to as ‘Holy Thursday’ or ‘Sheer Thursday’.
It pays homage to Jesus Christ’s last meal with his disciples, before handing himself over to be crucified.
The word Maundy comes from the Latin word for ‘command’, referencing instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples at the Last Supper.
Maundy Thursday also falls in ‘Holy Week’, which also features Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
What is Maundy Thursday?
Maundy Thursday is part of the Christian calendar, and marks the night of the Last Supper.
The Last Supper was described in the Bible as Jesus’s final meal with his 12 followers before being crucified.
He ordered his disciples to love one another, and then washed their feet in an act of solidarity.
Maundy Thursday also marks the end of Lent – 40 days of reflection that immediately follows Pancake Day.
During the Last Supper, Jesus performed the first Holy Communion, or Eucharist as it’s also known.
He gave his disciples bread, followed by saying the words: “This is my body.”
The bread was followed by the sharing of wine, with the words: “This is my blood.”
The Eucharist has subsequently formed an integral role of Christian worship.
Encyclopaedia Brittanica said: “In the early Christian church, [Maundy Thursday] was celebrated with a general communion of clergy and people.
“At a special mass, the bishop consecrated the chrism [holy oils] in preparation for the anointing of the neophytes at the baptism on Easter night.
“In England, alms are distributed to the poor by the British sovereign in a ceremony held at a different church each year.
“This developed from a former practice in which the sovereign washed the feet of the poor on this day.”
The Queen usually takes part in the Ceremony of the Royal Maundy.
She hands out special coins – known as Maundy money – to deserving senior citizens.
In the Catholic Church, the Pope usually washes and kisses the feet of 12 different people.
The act symbolises Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, and it usually involves members of the church.