Why Maundy Thursday?

Today is Holy Thursday, also called Maundy Thursday. In the Philippines, this is a public holiday. Here in Australia, we have to come to work. At least we get Monday off though because of Easter Monday which was something we didn’t have in the Philippines.

This reminded me of a story of when I was still working in the Philippines for an American company’s new Philippine-based office. There were only a handful of us working for the company and we were left almost entirely unsupervised in the first few months of operation. However, we are required to make a conference call to the bosses in the US every week to monitor our progress.

On one of these conference calls, we mentioned to the boss that there would be public holidays coming up during the Holy Week. We said that there would be no work on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Our boss couldn’t believe it. He said that he was surprised to hear that there was a week-long public holiday coming up. We were a bit confused with his reply. Week-long? We clarified that there’d only be no work on Thursday and Friday.

He said, “then why did you say there’d be no work from Monday to Thursday and Friday?”

Ah! There it is. We corrected him that we didn’t say “Monday to Thursday” but “Maundy Thursday.” We had a good laugh about it. He still complained though, “why didn’t you just Thursday. Why did you you have to say ‘Maundy’?”

We didn’t actually know why it is called “Maundy”. We’ve only ever known the holiday as Maundy Thursday and sometimes as Holy Thursday.

I did a little research and found out the reason for Maundy in Maundy Thursday. According to scholars, Maundy is derived from the Latin word Mandatum that means Commandment. It is taken from John 13:34 of the Latin version of the Bible: “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos ut et vos diligatis invicem,” Jesus Christ said to His disciples during the Last Supper. In English: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

Well, now you know why, too. For more information regarding Maundy Thursday, you can read the Catholic Encyclopedia entry here.

Published in: on April 13, 2006 at 1:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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