What is Maundy Thursday, how to calculate the date? Traditions, rituals and signs on this day. What can and cannot be done?
Maundy Thursday is an important day, which for many is associated with Easter and with bath procedures. At this time, it is customary to cleanse oneself physically, to put in order housing. But the date is much more significant if you get acquainted with its history. It is also no less interesting to find out what traditions and rituals are associated with Maundy Thursday. There are also restrictions on what you cannot do on this day.
Story of Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday is not just so closely associated with the Easter miracle. The tradition is based on biblical tradition. We are talking about incidents that happened 3 days before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
According to legend, it was on Thursday that the Savior gathered twelve apostles at a common table. The event was reflected in the history of Christianity called the Last Supper. On that day, he demonstrated from his own experience what humility and love for his neighbor is.
During the Last Supper, Jesus Christ washed the feet of his own disciples. He also shared a meal with everyone - bread and wine. It was on that very evening that a secret and terrible secret was revealed: Jesus told that one of the apostles would commit betrayal. Although the name was known, it was never announced. Soon everything happened as the Savior had said.
Christians honor Maundy Thursday as a special day. It is interpreted as a time when a person is purified in all senses. No less significant is the forgiveness of the traitor.
However, it is worth remembering not only the Orthodox Maundy Thursday. In pagan Russia, there was a similar holiday, which was tied to the Rusalia. This period was considered by the people to be a dangerous, turning point. It symbolized the arrival of spring, which means the change of seasons, the awakening of nature.
What frightened Rusalia was the belief that on such days a person could well meet the spirits of the dead. That is why he was preparing for a difficult mystical period - he was purified both in body and soul. As in the Orthodox and Slavic traditions, Maundy Thursday was meant to put in order the house and oneself. And such traditions could not be neglected. Otherwise, misfortunes would inevitably follow in the future.
According to Slavic rules, Maundy Thursday was celebrated before the first Rusalia. And they always fell on the days from April 16 to April 21.
Traditions and rites of Maundy Thursday
Since the time of those events that took place many centuries ago, certain traditions of Maundy Thursday have developed in Christianity. They are adhered to not only by deeply religious people, but also by the majority of people, simply repeating from year to year the actions that the ancestors previously performed in more than one generation.
If we talk about Christians, then they are not limited to the cleanliness of the house and body. For them, prayers are no less important, which prepare the soul for the bright holiday of the Resurrection.
It is customary among the people to begin preparations for Maundy Thursday before Easter on Monday. However, a full spring cleaning is carried out on this very day as a tribute to the memory of the ablution that Jesus once performed. And by Sunday, people come purified, bright, filled with tremulous feelings.
What exactly happens on Maundy Thursday:
- Wipe off the dust;
- Washing the floor;
- Tidy up windows and mirrors;
- Things are laid out in places, throwing out the extra ones;
- Change bed linen, bedspreads, towels;
- Hanging up clean curtains.
If you strictly follow the tradition, you need to get up before sunrise. Cleaning began immediately, and when it was completed, the house was fumigated with juniper. It was believed that such fumigation should be done on Maundy Thursday in order to get rid of evil spirits.Of course, a pleasant scent is equally important in a home. Therefore, we can remember the traditions of our ancestors today, setting fire to a juniper three days before Easter.
When the house was clean and ready for a bright holiday, they moved on to taking care of the purity of the body. Whenever possible, the ancestors went to the bathhouse. You can go to the sauna, but hygiene procedures in the bathroom or in the shower are also quite enough. When washing the body, it is supposed to imagine that water cleans not only dirt. The process also symbolizes deliverance from sins and ailments.
What they do on Maundy Thursday, in addition to cleaning and bathing, is decorating the home. The resurrection of the Son of God was supposed to be celebrated fully armed - preparing the house, as for a real celebration. Today, there are a variety of decor for this.
Our ancestors made sure to cover a clean tablecloth. She had to match a certain color scheme. It was believed that Easter decor accepts shades that are reminiscent of the flowering of nature. You can use green and yellow colors. Red in different tones - from rich to pale, pink, too, by the way.
But a snow-white tablecloth is also quite acceptable. Beautiful napkins and vases of flowers appeared on the table. The believers did not forget about the Easter corner. Icons were placed in it, candles were lit.
These are not all the events that fell on the Orthodox Clean Thursday. According to tradition, on this day it was still supposed to start making dough for Easter cakes. They put it on in the morning. By the evening, it reached the required condition so that you could start baking. The hostesses also had time to do pysankas, krashankas - eggs, which also participate in Easter symbols.
How to calculate the date of Maundy Thursday?
This holiday is considered to be a passing one. That is, the number of Maundy Thursday differs from year to year. You can start from different points of reference in order to find out exactly when to prepare the house - to wash it out of dirt, decorate.
First of all, one can proceed from Great Lent. Namely, Clean is called Thursday of the seventh week of such restriction in nutrition and cleansing from sins by fasting.
It is even easier to find out what date is Maundy Thursday in 2020 or any other year, if you remember that it happens three days before Easter. Therefore, knowing the date of the bright holiday, it remains to make the simplest calculations.
However, much more interesting is the question of what rules determine the time of the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Such standards were laid back in the 3rd century. The Alexandrian Church is considered the founder. Her proposal was approved by the decrees of the I Ecumenical (325) and local Antioch (341) councils.
To find out the number of Maundy Thursday in 2020 or another year, you should start from the phases of the moon. The fact is that Easter falls on the first Sunday of the full moon or immediately after it. But at the same time excluding the coincidence with the tradition of celebrating the event by the Jews. When Orthodox and Jewish Passover coincide, the first is tied to the full moon of the next month.
Based on these rules, Great Sunday is celebrated no earlier than March 21, that is, the day of the equinox. The latest date is April 25
What can not be done on Maundy Thursday?
The traditions of Christianity clearly establish the rules for preparing for Easter, of which Maundy Thursday is a part. But it is not only the mandatory activities that are fixed. Prohibitions are indicated in the same way. There are not so many of them, but they are still observed by believers, the people also usually remember what is best to avoid on such a day.
Since the essence of Maundy Thursday is to cleanse and prepare the dwelling and the person as a whole for Easter, everything that can bring dirt is prohibited. Any, even physical fades into the background. Indeed, much more often and imperceptibly for himself, a person is “dirty” with negative energy.
Of course, you can't put off cleaning and meet the Resurrection of the Savior in a dirty house. But still prohibited:
- Swearing and scandals;
- Foul language;
- Bad thoughts;
- Sinful acts.
It is interesting that on such a day, believers today try not to borrow money or things. And for the ancestors, such a prohibition was very harsh.
Since Maundy or Maundy Thursday is also the eve of Good Friday, believers treat its terrible events with reverence. Therefore, on Maundy Thursday you need to behave appropriately. Namely, it is better not to laugh or have fun. Even noisy and empty conversations are not the best pastime.
The people believed that ignoring such prohibitions would certainly entail punishment. Nobody knows exactly what will happen. But a variety of misfortunes are possible - from minor troubles to illness and lack of money, scandals and other troubles.
Signs for Clean Thursday
Preparing for Easter on Maundy Thursday, the people preserved not only Christian rituals and rules. There are many beliefs according to which you can attract happiness to the house and, conversely, attract trouble if you ignore certain signs.
First of all, any dirt in the home was considered unambiguously the harbingers of trouble. Disorder, dirty linen in the corners - all this promised illness, quarrels, troubles.
Our ancestors were ready to specifically perform some actions so that a special day would help attract good luck in different areas. They performed the following rituals on Maundy Thursday:
- All the money in the house was counted three times, it was believed that this was a reliable way to attract material wealth.
- Rearranging the furniture was also supposed to help improve financial well-being.
- Take a loaf of bread, sprinkle it with salt and say: "Salt, salt, sprinkle, I return happiness and peace to the house" - such a simple action was supposed to promote peace in a family where quarrels settled.
On Maundy Thursday, the rituals associated with the evil eye were relevant. After all, when, if not during the period of general cleaning, it was possible to get rid of someone else's negative energy, envy, slander and slander. For example, the ancestors got up and washed before sunrise, believing that this would get rid of the evil eye.
Almost every holiday was used by girls in order to improve their destiny, to get to know their betrothed, to attract the interest and attention of men. The customs of Maundy Thursday also included such ritual actions. The beauties, when they washed, said that they would be as beautiful for everyone as Maundy Thursday is bright and red. It remained to insert your name into the proverb, and after that the girl could expect that the interest of the guys around her would flare up with renewed vigor. When the young lady sat up to a fairly mature age, no longer cherishing the hope of getting married, she had to say the same words right during the cleaning.
To maintain health, people preferred to wash themselves not with ordinary water, but with the one in which the silver lay. Moreover, it was believed that such washing would help preserve natural beauty for many years.
Pagan traditions have given and are making themselves felt. Therefore, on Maundy Thursday, signs were and remain relevant, which are clearly rooted in the older beliefs of the Slavs. They were convinced that it was on this day that it was real to see the Brownie. And for a reason: to understand from his appearance what the next year will be for the family.
On Maundy Thursday, you could observe the Brownie with your own eyes, if you go up at night with a lit candle to the attic. When the spirit appears in an exhausted state, it means that difficult times lie ahead, it is time to tighten the belts. If he is well-fed and very hairy, accordingly, there will be prosperity in the house.
Respecting such a mystical creature, the Slavs did not forget to appease him. The date of Maundy Thursday was considered ideal for this. So that the Brownie was kind to the family, worried about its prosperity, about peace and harmony, they prepared a treat for him. The knapsack was hidden at the corner of the house, not forgetting about the saying.
The ancestors treated the bread baked on the eve of Easter with special reverence.On Maundy Thursday, it was impossible to treat him dismissively, even if the rest of the time the family treated him with respect. Perhaps this is due to both Slavic and Christian traditions. Indeed, in Russia as a whole, this product has been appreciated since ancient times. For believers, however, it has a special meaning, because during the Last Supper, it was to them that Jesus treated the disciples.
Preparing congratulations on Maundy Thursday, our ancestors did not forget about the so-called Thursday salt. On this day, she was considered sacred. She was credited with special properties, including healing ones. Therefore, by all means, they were harvested and stored in a bag for the entire next year.
Watch the video about Maundy Thursday:
In any case, the traditions of Maundy Thursday are a tribute to the memory of ancestors, even if you do not delve into the history of the date, do not tie it to a religious context. They should be preserved out of respect for the past, passing on from generation to generation.