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Traditions & NameDays
4/17/2014 8:00:00 AM
Holy Thursday is the day when all women are supposed to color bright eggs for Easter family gathering. Eggs as symbols of creation and new life have been exchanged for hundreds of years.
The concept of the red egg in the Christian traditional customs has been connected to a legend. Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus had cured from all the evil spirits within her, was the first one to see Jesus risen from the dead and she went around the world to spread the happy news. She reached Rome and Emperor Tiberiuss palace. According to the tradition, everyone visiting him was supposed to carry some sort of a gift to the Emperor. The rich people were carrying expensive gifts while the poor ones - whatever they could afford.
Mary Magdalene took an egg to Tiberiuss palace and handed it to the Emperor with the following greeting: "Christ has risen from the dead!" The Emperor could not believe what he heard and responded: "How could anyone ever rise from the dead! It is as impossible as that white egg to turn red right now..." While Tiberius was talking, the color in Mary Magdalenes hands started changing its color until it finally became bright red. The Easter greeting ever since has remained "Christ has risen from the dead" and Christians all over the world color eggs in red (as well as various other colors) for Easter to celebrate their belief in the Resurrection.
In the Christian calendar that day is known as Maundy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, or Holy Thursday, meaning the Thursday before Easter. It celebrates Jesus's last supper before his execution. Traditionally, it is the day when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and told them to serve others as he served them. Consequently, in many churches, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, the priest or pastor washes the feet of the congregants on this day.
The Middle English word "Maundy", used only in this context, derives from Old French "mand" and from Latin "mandamentum" (i.e. commandment), in reference to the opening words of the Catholic liturgy for this day, Mandatum novum do vobis "a new commandment I give unto you" (John xiii:34), words spoken by Jesus to the Apostles after washing their feet in preparation for the Last Supper.
The day has also been known as Sheer Thursday, due to the idea that it is the day of cleaning ("schere") and because the churches themselves would switch liturgical colors from the dark tones of Lent.
Outside English-speaking countries it is universally known as Holy Thursday.
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