When Steve was in seminary, I learned alot about Passion Week. I wasn’t taught much about Passion Week, growing up in the southern Bible belt. Maundy Thursday is one of those items I missed out on.
Although this is traditionally Catholic, I think it is good for us to remind our kids what was leading up to the resurrection of Christ…our celebration of Easter.
In this post, I’ve included the meaning of Maundy Thursday, traditions from this day and family activities for you to use.
The name ‘Maundy‘ is derived from the Latin word “mandatum”, meaning a commandment. Jesus Christ, at the Last Supper, commanded ‘And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.‘ John 13:34
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter when we celebrate the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples. It is normally celebrated in the evening, when according to Jewish tradition, Friday begins.
You might want to have your own Seder with a Christian perspective. I bought a Seder Plate last year from DaySpring. It’s beautiful and I’ll be using it this year. (It’s on sale right now & right here)
The Holy Thursday feast takes on greater meaning when we include foods used by Christ and His disciples. How so?
- Each person will have a goblet of wine (or grape juice, depending on age or personal choice). You’ll also want a Passover Cup
- Unleavened bread (matzos) may be provided, to represent the “bread of affliction” which the Jews ate while fleeing from Egypt.
- Some bitter herbs (radishes or horseradish) are eaten, to stand for the bitterness of slavery.
- Parsley or lettuce represents greens as a token of gratitude for all the products of the earth.
- Fruit jam (haroseth), a mixture of fruit and nuts crushed together, is a symbol of the mortar used by the Jewish people in their slavery. My family loves this and it’s so easy to make. Mix together chopped apples, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, honey & sweet red wine.
- You’ll also need a shank bone, preferably from a lamb, to illustrate the passover lamb & blood sacrifice.
In Germany, Maundy Thursday is known as “Green Thursday” (Grundonnerstag), and the traditional foods are green vegetables and green salad, especially a spinach salad. In Latin countries, Jordan almonds (“confetti”) are eaten today and also throughout Eastertide.
Back when Kings and Queens of England were Catholic, they, would wash the feet of 12 subjects. Royalty saw the footwashing rite as an example of service and humility. They gave money to the poor on this day, a practice said to have begun with St. Augustine of Canterbury in A.D. 597, and performed by Kings since Edward II. Now the footwashing isn’t done (it was given up in the 18th c.), but a special coin called “Maundy Money” is minted and given to the selected elderly of a chosen town.
1. Create a family centerpiece for the week using Sunday’s palms from mass as the focal point. Have a special family dinner together on Holy Thursday. Think of ways your family can “wash the feet” of people in need in your parish or community.
2. Memorize the names of the 12 disciples. Here’s a fun activity/rap to learn them.
12 Disciples Activity
3. Discuss the meaning of the Last Supper and Jesus’ celebration of Passover. Use Christ in the Passover as a guide. Discuss how Passover became our Communion. Click here for more details about Communion. This might give you some ideas:
Last Supper Activity
4. Wash each other’s feet. This is a humbling experience. Take turns washing each other’s feet and discuss how you feel doing so.
5. The idea of cleaning is one you want to impress upon your kids. You can clean your home before dinner (or Passover meal). You could also have your kids clean their room as an object lesson of cleaning your heart.
6. Washing feet is symbolic of serving others. Make a list of ways you can serve others in your neighborhood or community. Put those activities on your calendar for the next few months so you take action and do them.
7. Read aloud John 13:1-5. Jesus washed feet to show his love. Have a bowl, a bar of soap, and paper towels ready. Take turns washing each other’s hands and drying them as you express love to each other. Display the soap at your family worship space.
8. Let your kids do a Maundy Thursday Word Search. Click here to get your copy.
9. Try this fun Last Supper Craft from an egg carton. Last Supper Craft
When our kids were growing up, we read specific Scripture during Passion Week. If you’d like our list of verses to read each day from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, just enter your email below. We’ll send it automatically to you.
Question: How do you celebrate Maundy Thursday or Passover/Last Supper? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Kerry Beck encourages homeschool moms as they raise their children to godliness. She has written an Easter Bible Study for your family, Skies of the Cross.
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