My favorite holiday is fast approaching—Easter. This year it falls on Sunday, April 24th—just a week and a half away. While there are many fun traditions associated with Easter that are carried out in our culture such as dying eggs and hiding baskets, there are many other traditions that few people know about that can give our Easter celebrations more meaning.
The Thursday before Easter is called Maundy Thursday. It is also known in some places as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, or the Thursday of Mysteries. But I like the term Maundy Thursday best because Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum which means “command” and refers to the commandment Jesus gave on the last Thursday of His life: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have love you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). The old command had been to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39), but His last commandment set a new standard: love others like He loved.
Traditionally on Maundy Thursday a Maundy Ceremony is performed where people wash the feet of the poor in commemoration of Jesus washing the feet of His apostles and instructing them to serve others, which also took place on Maundy Thursday. Over the years the traditions of how to serve others changed from washing feet to the giving of Maundy Money to the poor. However it is celebrated, Maundy Thursday is about following the Savior’s example of serving others and giving of oneself with love.
So as Maundy Thursday approaches (April 21st) if you don’t already celebrate the day as part of your commemoration of the Atonement and Resurrection of the Savior, it could add to the meaning of your Easter to start a Maundy Thursday tradition of your own. You don’t have to wash feet or give money, but serve others in any way you can and see how it enhances your Easter celebration.